July 29, 2012

How about a lady nerd talks about lady nerds?

A friend of mine actually introduced me to a bit of a controversy in the blogosphere via facebook.  It started on CNN's Geek Out with an article by Joe Peacock, called Booth Babes Need Not Apply.  Peacock is tired of sexy ladies taking advantage of men's engrossment of the female form.  How dare women dress up in nerdy costumes merely seeking attention and not actually give a rat's ass about high scores or critical hits or comic book artists!  You need to earn the right to play dress up around male nerds and seek their attention.  You can't just claim to be a nerd because you look good dressed as Laura Croft.

How dare you be attractive when you don't know the master cheat code to Contra!
In comes John Scalizi. and he's here to save all geeks from this vile persecution.  Peacock doesn't get to choose who's a geek.  Nobody does!  Ladies can be geeks if they dress up for attention, and no one should give a fuck!  All you need to do is share the geekitude, spread the love, and you'll be a geek.  No one can tell you otherwise, no one!

Be free to be sexy and nerdy without judgement,  pretty lady!

Alright, stop it.  Stop it with the circle jerk of I AM THE DEFENDER OF MY PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET.  Both writers are guilty of this.  Peacock is trying to defend his fellow geeks from being assaulted by others who don't get it.  That's fair.  Nerds are used to having to explain themselves and having people tell them they're weird or a freak or need to lay off the magic cards.  Geeks can easily get  defensive.  Part of the reason I wear my nerdy hobbies on my sleeve is the anticipation of being the weirdo.  Luckily, things have gotten better overtime, and if my kids are as serious of Star Trek and dice rolling as I am I doubt they'll get nearly as much grief as I have had, let alone what my mother dealt with.

The era of having to be over protective is over.  Sure, there are still jerks out there.  But with the internet and conventions and main stream acceptance of quirky hobbies, you are never alone.  So when a woman is paid by a company to look attractive as your favorite sci-fi character, it's not an attack on you or a way to trick you into trusting the wrong person.  It's a sales tool, which is never anything against you.  If anything take it as a compliment.  It's something that any person in any hobby or walk of life experiences deals with when they're considered important in this capitalist era we live in.  Everyone deals with it, and anyone who can should have the right to earn money for looking good in (little to no) clothing.

I do agree with Scalizi for the most part.  There is no hierarchy to decide who is a real nerd and who's a poser.  If you have a hobby that you love and like to share your enthusiasm with other people, then it shouldn't matter what the technical labels are, just have fun.  I just don't like the way that it had to be him to swoop down and defend women in the geek world.  More importantly, I don't like that it had to be a him to have the legitimate voice.  It had to be another male saving women from male persecution.  Well, okay, it's not really persecution, no one's rights are at stake or anything like that.  But still a man had to be the one to say "It's okay for women to do things!"

This just might be my little inner feminist (by the way, feminist is not a dirty word) coming out and saying that this is one of those instances where we need the "patriarchy" to say what is okay for women to do inside the "patriarchy".  Although I've seen the gender disparity in the geek world lessen in the short time I've been participating in it, it's still a male dominated set of hobbies.  There is nothing inherently wrong with that.  What's frustrating is that since it's mostly guys in that world, it's mostly guys having to justify not only when a gal is "good" enough to participate but also call out other guys for being assholes.  And you know what, Scalizi is right.  No one should care who's doing whatever fun activity in their own little nerd sphere anyway.  In turn, no man should ever has to disqualify or requalify a woman's right to do something nerdy.

I wish there were more women in better positions, or even just more willing, to swoop in and call out the assholes.

We nerd women need to be the ones to tell people, mostly men, to back off and let us enjoy our hobbies.  We shouldn't need to have some guy to say it for us.  We need to be the aggressive defenders of our hobbies.  There are some of us out there that are responding to Pecock's article, and that's exactly what we need to do.  Stop picking on us, we'll bite back.  We need to do it in full force.  We need to do it at the same time.  Part of the reason that some people pick on a certain group in a hobby is because they don't take the group serious.  Well dammit, we nerd ladies are seriously into our nerdiness.  We'll be happy to let you know.

Finally, for any person that has been in the real world, we should ALL know that there will ALWAYS be people seeking attention.  Yes, sometimes that's sexy cosplay, and it works, but there are plenty of men and women who do many things because they crave the attention of others.  If you haven't encountered this, you're a hermit.  This is one of those frequent personality types you'll meet and have to accept.  The best thing to do is note it and move on.  Some things in life you can't change.  One of them is that attention seekers exist.  If you don't like, how about you stop giving them attention.  At least then they'll stop pestering you for it.

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