My Wish for 2013
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?
- Geek Masculinity and the Myth of the Fake Geek Girl (comicsalliance.com)
- Why The “Fake Geek Girl” Meme Needs To Die (buzzfeed.com)
- Geek credentials? Geek gate keeping? (mynotsofictionallife.wordpress.com)
- The Myth of the Fake Geek Girl (io9.com)