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My Wish for 2013


Right,

Seeing as we’re now in the bright shiny year of 2013 (only two years away from the future according to Back to the Future II!) it’s time to talk about something that we really need to get rid of. It’s true that 2012 was a great year for a million reasons with the Avengers, Sherlock and Doctor Who all being among my personal highlights. That said there was one thing about 2012 that we shouldn’t miss. Sadly, 2012 was the year that stories like this, this, this and this all broke into wider consciousness and generated a wide amount of anger and, more bafflingly, a backlash to the stories. It’s been a bit of an unspoken truth for a while now, so let me come out and just say it – we need to talk about how geek culture treats people who aren’t men. Or white. Or who are different from whatever standard of normality you care to apply.

This is an uncomfortable discussion to have because it is finally starting to emerge that geek culture has changed in the past few years. Geeks today aren’t the stereotype of the social awkward, white straight guy anymore and as the demographics have changed so has the culture we all share. When you take that into account the backlash to people speaking out and challenging latent or downright aggressive sexism, misogyny and discrimination becomes easier to understand. It’s true that the average geek is now no longer the straight white guy but for a very very long time, they probably were. What this means is that the entire geek culture was designed to cater for these people, (if you don’t believe that, can I suggest you check out the Hawkeye Initiative to see how comics catered towards a specific demographic) and so it isn’t surprising that these people feel like geek culture belongs to them. It isn’t right, but sadly it isn’t surprising. What makes the backlash even more unsurprising is that for a long time being a geek wasn’t really socially acceptable so this backlash against people rightly criticizing is all about fear. Fear of having that thing you love taken away, fear of being told it’s stupid. Fear that you have to share with someone different from you.

So here’s my wish for 2013.

Let’s put things in perspective and call this sh*t out.

The colossal success of geek culture has brought amazing things like comics, films, internet videos and awesome TV to a wider audience than ever before. Gamers are now spread across more and more platforms and more and more genders and ethnicity. It’s never been a better time to be passionate about something (what else does geekdom mean?) so when someone criticizes a part of it the right reaction is not to freak out and start flinging abuse. When a woman has the gall to talk about how the things she likes depicts women, the correct response is not to make a game where you get to beat her up. When you play online and earn a spectacular frag the correct response is not to brag about ‘raping’ someone. It’s wrong, it cheapens us all and it just needs to stop.

It won’t happen overnight though, and it needs everyone to call it out and stop it ourselves. The great thing is that these people; the people who leave vile comments online, the people who talk trash and threaten women who have the gall to step into an MMO – THOSE people are in the minority. Thank GOD, right? I mean, what else can you say? I couldn’t be happier that people who treat culture as an argument to be won are not the dominate force. That there are new exciting voices that have been marginalized for far too long finally getting the platform they’ve earned through hard work and plenty of talent. That’s worth being excited over.

2013 could, nay should be, the year where instead of misogynists criticising women for daring to turn up to a Con in costume, women get the same treatment as the guys in costume do. You see, here’s my biggest problem with people who rail against ‘fake geek girls’ and hate anyone who might have a different opinion to them. Their view on geek fandom is so undeniably small, petty minded and permanently angry. So let’s leave those misogynist mouth breathers in the past where they belong. This year, the geek culture world looks more exciting, more vibrant and more diverse than ever before. It’s a big exciting cultural Eco-system and thankfully these idiots are on their way out. I’m aware that as a straight, white guy who loves all things geek I’m one of the people that the whole set up has been made for, but it makes me excited that things are changing, because it’ll mean that everything I care about can get better and be shared with more people.

And who can argue with that, right?

ThePageBoy

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5 Responses to “My Wish for 2013”
  1. pocketcoyote says:

    Thank you.

    As a near-lifelong geek (Tolkien at age 4; I never looked back), thank you.

    As a woman who’s had fellow geeks ask her which nearby geek was her boyfriend, because she couldn’t possibly be in this comic shop to buy comics for herself, thank you.

    As a geek-girl who’s seen the best and worst Comic-Con has to offer, thank you.

    As a semi-pro costumer who sewed her best friend an original costume because she was too damn scared to step out of the house dressed as the character she created, thank you.

    As someone who has always considered fandom her tribe, her people and her home, and who has seen this culture of the different ostracize her and other women just for BEING different–thank you.

    I hope you get your wish. And even if you don’t, I’m very glad you wished it.

    Like

  2. ThePageBoy says:

    Hey,

    Thank you so much for that comment – I was a little worried writing this that I was just going out on a limb. Fingers crossed, with more people speaking out 2013 will be the year we see the end of it, or at the least the beginning of it’s end.

    Like

    • pocketcoyote says:

      I’m sure some people will try to bite your head off, PageBoy. But this is nothing that the vast majority of female geeks I know haven’t said among themselves a thousand times. My geeky girlfriends and I are tired of being told that we aren’t “real” geeks because we aren’t guys, aren’t straight, and/or aren’t white. We’re tired of being ordered to prove our geekdom as if our gender makes it provisional. We’re tired of fandom being the place where it’s safe to fantasize out loud about raping people, or to complain that there isn’t enough cheesecake in this comic or that movie, with no regard for the women all around who may be survivors of sexual assault and who all have the right to be treated like human beings, not blow-up dolls. We’re tired of the constant awareness that any guy we meet at a con may consider it his right to undress us with his eyes, and occasionally his hands. We’re tired of being told, in a thousand different ways, that in this culture we exist only to gratify the minority of fans you so poignantly call mouthbreathers, and that they will never accept us as legitimate fellow geeks because they’ll never have to.

      We understand that the culture wasn’t designed for us, and that for many years it got along just fine without us, but we’re here now … and in a lot of places, we outnumber the mouthbreathers. We’re buying more product than they are. And we’ve been here for quite a while; I remember when I was the only girl in the comic shop (I was also the only 12-year-old), but it hasn’t been that way for years now. We’re here, we’re not leaving, and it’s about damn time that the famous culture of inclusion actually freaking included us. So thank you for speaking out. You have a voice and a platform that many of us don’t, and I’m very glad that you’re using it in this way.

      We geek-girls know most fans are not mouthbreathers. After my first Comic-Con, I walked away wondering if I’d somehow wandered into Canada because everyone was so polite to me there. I’ve dated fellow geeks; hell, if I have a type, geeks are it. We know the good guys are out there. We just wish they weren’t so accommodating to the mouthbreathers.

      You’re on the right side of history here, if such a thing exists. More power to you.

      Like

  3. ThePageBoy says:

    Reblogged this on ThePageBoy and commented:

    Got some really nice feedback on this piece – my wish for 2013. Hope you like it!

    Like

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