Say kids, I’ve been in this comics business for over 20 years, and I was accused of being a fake geek by men and some very insecure women more times than I can remember, and recently, too.
There were those jerks who picked on me relentlessly during my early years in SF fandom, because I had the temerity to be a blonde girl, therefore I must be intensely stupid and talentless.
There was the envious cosplay queen who threw a fit over my Galadriel costume, because she insisted all the men were voting for me, not because I had a nice costume, but because I was sixteen and…you know. And oh yeah, she cried, “That’s my elf!”
Actually, it’s Tolkien’s elf, but whatever.
The pro who called me a virgin slut for looking wholesome and cute, but she could tell just by looking I was really a tramp. Because hey, girls who complain about sexism are whiny little snots who just need to accept things as they are and get over it. Shut up and be one of the boys!
There was the time I went to the Oscars, and my glam garnered me some hate mail from people who wrote to let me know I should just get out of comics because I obviously want to be in Hollywood anyway.
Whew, that’s what I get for wearing a dress!
There was that bizarre stalking problem, where I was repeatedly accused of not being nice and accepting of Mr Stalker, no matter how grotesque or dangerous his behavior was, because it is the duty of women in fandom to be an emotional touchstone and nurturer to everyone who demands it of us. Oh yeah, and to put out.
There was all that controversy back in the day over at The Warren Ellis Forum, where women and men who really ought to know better thought nothing of slut shaming, liberal use of the term “nerdbaiting”, and hurling the lovely phrase “attention whore” at women on the forum who did not dress and act as others thought they should.
There is nothing behind this Fake Geek Girl nonsense that doesn’t boil down to bullying. Nothing. What people wear, how they behave, whether or not they are true fans, whether or not they are supportive enough of whatever is in your portfolio: all of that is a red herring. It’s bullying.
You think you’re high? We’ll bring you low.
It’s gatekeeper behavior.
Here’s what it boils down to.
If you are a girl, you owe me.
If you are a girl, you threaten me.
If you are visible in any way, you owe me.
If you are visible in any way, you threaten me.
The real criterion for geek status is not shared interests, but whether or not you got your head slammed into a locker in high school. Fandom as misery contest: only the picked-on may proceed.
We will decide whether you get in the club. We may/may not accept that woman/girl over there, but we get to be judges of you. And the more threatening you are to whatever in us that desires/ fears/ feels that the pie isn’t big enough for everyone to get a slice, then the harder we will push to drive you out.
As if one actually ever wanted to be in a club, as opposed to say, wanting to pass through a convention one paid to get into without being denounced as a whore. As if the judge is in any position to judge anyone else’s looks, behavior, or unspoken intentions.
This is the emotional economics of scarcity.
Listen up, Geek Girl! Your love of Star Wars diminishes theirs. Your comic diverts eyeballs from theirs. Your costume is totally killing someone’s Only Woman in the Room buzz. Your Power Girl t-shirt shamelessly tempts hapless males who know you won’t give them any. Your small stack of books makes their big stack smaller. A pretty geek filmed for the SyFy Channel means a true worthy missed a big chance to be on Firefly.
There just isn’t enough good feeling to go around. If too many people claim to love Star Trek, that diminishes the love of a true geek. It diminishes their importance.
The excuse of the bully fan or pro is that the normals/ muggles/ mundanes bullied and shamed them.
The reaction is to bully and shame. Hostility almost always directed at girls.
Bullies who can’t even admit they’re bullies. Bullies entitled to mete out a little social justice to those oh, so deserving, awful dilettantes. Complain about the lack of diversity in geekdom, then follow it up with an act of cognitive disconnect: tweet dreams of a day when real geeks just stand up and scream at the fakers until all the meanies who get too much attention for being pretty/young/blonde/pretend smart/mediocre talent/whatever just get out of our fandom! Because, you know, they don’t live it, like we do.
Geek girls are scapegoats for every girl who didn’t go out with them, didn’t sit at the lunch table with them, didn’t invite them to the prom, didn’t vote for them for senior superlative. Privileged girls. Why, you can tell just by looking at them that they don’t know what pain is.
So, they get schooled.
Folks, I’m sorry some people had a rough time, but that doesn’t give you a free pass to take it out on other people. Moreover, you really can’t tell whether or not someone else has had a hard life because they are too pretty/young/talented/successful/together/happy/whatever-the-hell-it-is that makes you think you get to harass someone for breathing your space. Just because other people don’t wear it like a flag, that doesn’t mean they don’t have problems, too.
And even if they don’t, you still don’t get to throw creep behavior at them.
Those of you who try to convince me that I am somehow diminished when other women get attention I’m not entitled to in the first place, NO, I will not join you on your crusade to drive the dilettantes from our midst. I am not diminished by their presence in any way. A girl cosplayer getting a photo op doesn’t take from me a thing. GAZE does not make me a better person, or a better artist. When someone else gets GAZE for whatever reason, even if it’s because they wore a really tight-fitting costume, I lose nothing. I have no claim to that attention.
I’m pretty secure with my work as a cartoonist, thanks. I wouldn’t have put up with half the shit from some of you people all these years if I weren’t.
But hey, when you throw this argument my way, at least you’re not claiming I’m a Fake Geek Girl. Thanks for that!
None of this will be solved with cute PSA’s, but the dialogue will continue.
In the past, if you said boo about this stuff, you’d get shouted down or ignored.
So, it’s not pretty, but here it is.
Fandom is having growing pains.
And that’s good.