I want to talk about one of the more controversial topics that has been plaguing our national debate these past many months. It has to do with an injustice committed upon a portion of the populace that is very near and dear to my heart, women... nerd women more specifically. Let me start with a little background. There is a meme circling around the Internet called "Nerd Girl." The basic joke of the meme is that there is this young teenage girl wearing big glasses with the word "nerd" written on her hand, and it is quite obvious she is not really a nerd. For a better example of this meme look to the picture at the left. The idea of the meme is that she a is a "poser" who is trying to fit in with geek culture, but doesn't quite understand it.
Now the meme itself is harmless, but there is an underpinning to it that is not so harmless. While researching this article (I know its surprising I do research, you would never think it...) I found a large amount of nerd-rage directed at women. There is a growing sentiment that most geeky girls are really nothing more than "posers," much like the girl represented in the meme. This rage is most evidently directed at female Cosplayers (those really hot women that dress up in scantly clad costumes at comic conventions,) as most "true" nerds seem to think that these women are merely exploiting the geek culture to get attention and maybe even a little camera time. The argument goes kind of like this:
-Guy: I have been reading Batman comics since before Miller made The Dark Knight Returns. What could you possibly know about Batman? You're just a woman?
-Gurl (dressed as Harley Quinn): I really like this outfit. I loved her in Arkham Asylum...
-Guy: You're a damn poser... Harley Quinn wasn't even an original a Batman villain. She was created by Bruce Timm's DCU Batman show. I bet you've never even read a comic book. You're just here so that for once in your life, guys will pay attention to you...
That's about the gist of a lot of the nerd-rage that has been going on about this. For a way more succinct and offensive example, you should check out comic artist, Tony Harris' Facebook rant
on the subject. I don't think I could sum it up quite so... *ahem*... elegantly as he has.
Personally, I am more than a little disappointed in the people who partake in this lowest denominator of prejudice. Nerd culture has never never never (triple negative) been about discriminating anyone for their race, religion, creed, species, sexuality, or sci-fi preferences, and especially never for their gender. Geeks began as the ultimate outcast group, and now that we are beginning to rise to a higher esteem in the culture, are we really going to start being picky and discriminatory to who we let call themselves nerds?... What the hell? Are we hipsters now? This disgusts me.
There is no requirement for nerdom. All it ever takes is a willingness to let yourself have fun, an appreciation for the things that so many of us share, and maybe a willingness to admit that George Lucas isn't all he's cracked up to be... If anything, all I have ever gotten from the women geeks that I have met is enthusiasm and a love for the culture. I mean, how many of you men are willing to dress up in skimpy outfits and parade around half-naked in (often) winter time conditions? That is commitment... As for everything else, who cares if not everyone gets all the in-jokes, or reads the right comics, or even does or does not care for anime. Its not like its some kind of secret society, though it can sometimes appear as one to the uninitiated... but that's besides the point.
|There are so many women I left off of this graphic
depiction. I could have gone on and on finding positive
and strong female role models in nerd society.
Geek culture was founded on the principals of equality. Granted, our heroines are often extremely attractive, (and a bit exaggerated in the T&A sections,) but it is still a culture that has come a long way to acknowledge the strength of women as a whole. For instance, compare Princess Leia Organa with Bella Swan from Twilight
. Ultimately, both represent the woman who needs saving, (at least in the beginning,) and both fall for men that are probably more rough and tumble (and sparkly) than you might expect. Yet, that is where the comparison ends. Bella basically proves an inability to do anything that shows any sort of strength, self-confidence, or initiative throughout the entire book series. Even when she gains sparkly vampire powers, she is still nothing more than a weak woman caught up in the events and in the shadow of Edward Cullen's life. Princess Leia on the other hand starts her series as an important leader of the Rebel Alliance, a Rebel spy, a kick ass marksman, and by the time of Return of the Jedi
it's her who must rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt. In the Expanded Universe she becomes a Jedi Knight, a Chief of State of the New Republic, and a mother. Even her relationship with Han always seemed to be on her terms, (which she evidences by making out with her own brother, but that's another story.) Leia is still a woman, (and a nerd-sex icon in that metal bikini,) but she as strong or stronger than any other character out there, man or woman. This comparison is even more striking when you think that Leia was conceived in 1977, when Bella was created in 2005. How can you blame women for converting to geekiness? I know that when I have a daughter, I'm buying her a lightsaber not a Barbie.
That is the point of nerd culture. We see the value in everyone and everything. We accept you regardless of who or what you are. It doesn't matter if you're a female like Lara Croft, disabled like Professor X, gay/bisexual like Captain Jack Harkniss, or even British. We are a culture founded on the principal that we are all created with an equal right to be geeky. I'm not saying we still don't have a long way to go in emphasizing brains over breasts, but I think our culture has made great strides in honoring women characters. Now its time to honor women geeks. Ultimately, if you put yourself in the shoes/boots/high heels/pumps/sandals/etc of women, would you rather dress in a revealing cheerleader outfit and be nothing more than an accessory to a sports game where you're not really contributing anything (other than your skimpy outfit) or would you rather dress in a revealing costume that transforms you into a woman of power and prestige, who commands the room when you walk in.
This of course brings me to my next shameful thought, sports culture (in many ways) is more inclusive of women than nerds. You never hear the jocks of the world calling a women dressed in a Giants jersey a "poser." Nor have I ever seen a professional baseball player go on a rant about all those fake women coming to games just so they can pretend to be something they are not. I can only wonder if this has to do with how jocks and nerds approach women. First off, assuming all nerds/geeks are virgins is an offensive cliche, but we do share a common ancestry to a time when that was true. So maybe, it is undeniable to think that such a mindset has not pervaded the culture. It has... Thus, I can see how nerds may be a bit more stand-offish with members of the opposite sex, and a lot of this knee-jerk nerd-rage may just be more defensive than anything else. After all, I remember a time in my life where people (men, but especially women) only pretended to like what I liked so they could get something from me or they did so with the intention of using it to hurt me later... I mean, I went to middle school... but a new dawn has arrived. As a people we have to let go of that kind of rejction instinct. A lot of this may just be the growing pains of geek culture as it becomes more mainstream, and hopefully we'll just be able to move past it as we progress into the future.
After all, most geeks I know are caring, trusting, fun-loving individuals. That goes for both men and women. Nerdiness was founded on acceptance and understanding. If we lose that part of the culture than I am afraid what it will become. So, to all those people out there with their finger pointing at women who may or may not be nerds, maybe they should start questioning what kind of nerd world they would rather live in? One with awesome/attractive females that share (even) a mild interest in comics/sci-gi/fantasy/etc? Or one of close-minded jerks who are prepared to berate anyone or anything that doesn't meet their standards... Given the choice I know where I'd rather be.
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