NYT, girl bullied for star wars, WTF?
In which your editor goes on a rant.
There has been a plethora of geek girl activity since our last issue. I wanted to take a few moments to address it, having been an active participant for some of it and an interested observer for the rest.
Last year we had Katie Goldman being bullied for liking Star Wars. This year we have had Ginina Bellafonte deciding that she “can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first.” This comment was in her, now notorious, review of “A Game of Thrones” for the New York Times.
Then we had a bit of back and forth over a post by Vince Mancini over on FilmDrunk that everyone thought was offensive and then maybe it was just an observation and now I’ve sort of lost track of it all because I got distracted by the overtly sexist stuff happening in the comment threads.
I’m still undecided whether this is all good for geekdom, or fandom, or whatever you want to call it. All I know is that I freely and proudly admit that I am a geeky, nerdy girl and I’m astonished that such a statement could be disregarded or attacked as being over the top and crazy. (I can take a joke as well as the next person, but painting feminists with the broad stroke of us all being man-hating, mustachioed, angry women who don’t shave our legs just makes you sound insecure and stupid, guys.)
Long before I knew what a feminist was, I was reading fantasy. In fact, a fantasy book is my favorite book in the whole world, the one book I would want to be buried with. (Robin McKinely’s “The Hero and the Crown”, btw, and for the record it’s about a GIRL fighting a dragon.)
So as things have calmed down around geek girl land, then stirred back up again a few weeks later, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a geek, to enjoy geek culture, etc.
Geeks run the internet and therefore geek culture dominates. We’ve kind of dragged everyone else on the planet into our sphere because if they wanted to keep up with the web, then they had to get our jokes.
But does liking Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and video games make one a geek? Is geek a state of mind, or is it a set of criteria? There are design geeks, programming geeks, science geeks, etc., but generally, geekdom seems to involve a love of things that require study, smarts (or hard work), and a love of technology and innovation.
Fandom has no such requirements. On a base level, fandom only requires that you consume on a grand scale. Epic movies, epic comic book collections, epic gaming stats. There has, obviously, been a lot of crossover between the two cultures.
But all this isn’t about how much code I write, nor what I do for a living, nor my political leanings, sexuality, dietary habits, or whether I think all men are assholes. It’s very simply about a complete disregard for women involved with genre fiction, specifically sci-fi and fantasy.
We are here. Most of the boys know we are here. Some of them are scared about it and think we’re going to take their comic book boobies away from them and tell them to stop farting. I’m not going to do that. It’s not really about my fellow readers, after all, and the guys in the comic shop are more likely to defend me if I was in trouble than anyone else.
This is about the media and how it’s assumed, in the broadest of strokes, that women have no interest in such things.
I was raised in the 70’s and early 80’s. Women were coming into their own and we were told from a young age that we could be doctors, laywers, scientists, etc. I was never told something was a ‘boy’ thing to do. I played with Barbies, but I played with my very own Tonka trucks just as much and stole my brother’s Star Wars toys when he wasn’t looking.
I came to my geekdom naturally. I was the oldest, so I was the one blazing the trail, as it were, but nothing was ever forced on me. ‘Girl’ oriented or ‘boy’ oriented didn’t matter. Mr. Rogers loved me just the same.
Now, in the year 2011, the fucking 21st century, and I have to remind people that girls actually like ‘that fantasy stuff’?!?
In the end, this whole kerfuffle reminded me, quite powerfully, that there was a damn good reason that I started Luna Station Quarterly in the first place. Women like genre fiction. Not all women, I get that, but we do like it. We read it, we write it, we participate in it at all levels. Personally, I couldn’t give two shits about the post-modern ‘literature’ that fills the best seller list and I had no idea who Lorrie Moore was when she was reference in the review. I had to go wiki her, like the good geek I am.
I admit it, this is a defining moment for me and for this magazine. It has refined my reasons for starting this site to a razor sharp point. (That would be a sword point, for those keeping tabs) I am here, we are here, to support women writers and women readers and the men who love us and support us back, no matter how much of a myth creatures such as us may be.
So thank you all, for being awesome geek girls. We’ll keep waving the flag until we get what we really want: a time when flag waving is no longer necessary.