Stop complaining. Do something about it.

community , geek culture 5 comments

I’m a pretty angry person a lot of the time. It’s a character flaw, not something I like about myself, but I manage. I find a lot over which to get my crank on: drivers who don’t signal, people telling me what do, politics.

But mostly I get angry over the sheer injustice of being a lady. A woman. Possessing of a vagina. You know what? There is so much about this that sucks. Oh, nothing about the actual walking around of being a woman bothers me at all. Less upper body strength than a man? That’s what simple machines such as levers and pulleys are for, my fellow tool-using primates! The risk of pregnancy? I can create a human being using my body, dudes, that is sheer badass. Having my period? Piece of cake! No mere man could do it half as well; I rock this menstruation so hard. No, what blows my mind every day is how women are treated by the world around them: as less than people. And, sorry, man-friends that I hold so dear, you really never will know how it feels, as I will never truly know how life outside my own privilege-bubble feels — though if you’re of another marginalized group of people (i.e. queers, POC, etc.) you may certainly find resonance in what I will shortly describe.

Because I’m a woman who hates how women are societally perceived and represented, I can’t call myself a “geek”. The word has come to fill me with loathing and rage whenever I hear it, specifically as “geek culture” becomes more and more mainstream and recognized by the regular person on the street. Now, I am no sociologist, I can’t tell you how or why, but “geek culture” has a woman problem. If you think it doesn’t or are somehow still blissfully unaware of it, then maybe you should look around a little bit more at the culture itself. Those links, BTW, are from the first page of a Google search for “geek misogyny”. Just the first page. And it’s not even all about “hating” women. Sometimes what pisses me off is simply being treated like I’m “special” or different from my colleagues who happen to not have vaginas, when, much like Zaphod, I’m just this guy, you know?

As I’m saying this, I want you all to understand that I get that not every geek is a misogynist. Far from it! There are some incredibly open-minded, inclusive, understanding people who self-identify as geeks, like my Causality partners, Michael Montoure and Ralph Fontaine. Montoure, in particular, is sometimes even better at catching Bullshit Done To Ladies In The Media than I am. What I’m saying is that I have experienced enough misogyny, othering, and marginalization at the hands of this subculture (as well as others) to get very, very turned off by the community at large. It’s unfortunate but true. I love speculative fiction. I love the opportunities it gives us for storytelling, for art, for learning about ourselves as people. But I hate how “geek culture” makes me and many others feel: as less than a person. And this marginalization reflects in media in many ways. The “less than” feeling makes me not want to play with others of my kind. That’s sad.

Anyway, enough has been written about the subject that I don’t think I have anything useful to add when it comes to Geek Feminism 101. But I do have this, my one really good coping skill when it comes to anger:

Stop complaining. Do something about it.

I don’t like how women are marginalized or nonexistent in the majority of science fiction media? Fine. Let’s do something about it. Let’s make some science fiction with women in it. Not women who are the Hero’s mom, girlfriend, sister, daughter, not women whose entire purpose is to get killed/pregnant/raped/otherwise stuffed in a fridge. Women who are not “just” women or “real” women or “strong” women or some other bullshit buzz phrase, but women who are human. I am tired of seeing depictions of 51% of the population that are inaccurate and shallow. I want to see people I can identify with, just like everyone else does. And the people I identify with most frequently possess vaginas and character flaws — such as swift and sudden anger over poor turn signal use. But still…they’re people. Just people. Sometimes they do good things and sometimes they do bad things, but those things rarely have anything to do with gender. And, no, I can’t fix all the problems of fair representation in one webseries, but I can do this one cool thing: write women characters and write them well. I can work with and be inspired by other talented women, like writer/actor Carolynne Wilcox, Production Designer Lisa Hammond, and Associate Producer Shauna Hagreen. And I can trust that the men I work with will not treat me or others as less than people.

So, I’m making this show. Did I tell you about this show I’m making? Causality. Have you heard about it? Oh, good. It has four main characters. I really think you’re going to like them! And two of them are people who just so happen to be women.

Posted by   @   February 3, 2011 5 comments
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Feb 3, 2011
12:09 pm
#1 Carolynne Wilcox :

Funny…I just got done talking on the phone with a (FEMALE) member of the press who wondered if we really NEED a festival exclusively for female playwrights and directors, and haven’t things changed enough already? She considers herself “post-feminist”. This is often the thing that makes me the angriest: other women who are completely in the dark and actually perpetuate misogyny without realizing it.

Feb 3, 2011
12:16 pm
#2 Glynis Mitchell :

Wow. Yeah. There are plenty of women who are just as guilty of keeping the ladies down as there are men. Sigh.

Yes, in a time when I got told as first Literary Manager and then Managing Director of a theater that there “just weren’t enough good women playwrights” to feature more than one in a season, we need festivals that focus on them.

Feb 3, 2011
11:27 pm
#3 C. Wilcox :

Also, I am an angry person too…and one of the things I hate most is when I nearly bite some poor guy’s head off for saying something completely innocent but which I perceive to be sexist. I’ve gotten better about that – I mostly seethe inside and just make some sort of sweet, yet *pointed* remark. It happened to me TWICE today – once online and once at the grocery store. When I look back on each incident, #1 was not trying to demean me, but trying to say something nice about his friend and #2 was just doing his job and asked me if I needed help finding anything. I sweetly said, “Thanks, I think I can handle it” when I could’ve just said “thank you” or “Where are the olives?” But because of the general atmosphere you bring up (just BEING in the world sometimes…) I am sometimes HYPERDEFENSIVE when I don’t need to be, and that really sticks in my craw.

Jun 14, 2011
12:23 pm
#4 Candice :

What I always find funny about the “geek misogyny” is the stereotype of the male fan. In all my years working in science fiction and fantasy fandom it is clear that there are more women fans than men. But when the stereotype of the comic book nerd, or convention goer is described, it’s always a dude.

Jun 14, 2011
4:22 pm
#5 Glynis Mitchell :

It’s true! Montoure was just talking about that the other day, how there seem to be a tremendous number women who qualify as “fans”, who spread the word about things they love, particularly on the internet. I think we’re starting to see definite backlash from these women, too. Good.

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