A Girl in Geek Culture…

Photo Credit: The Wire

Photo Credit: The Wire

Hi my name is Nicole. I’m 26. I’m female. And I play video games. And because of all that, I was nervous to write this post. This in itself shows how much of a problem we have.

 

This past week has seen a spike in coverage about women in geek culture. We kicked it all off with the Tropes vs Women in Video Games. I’ve been a fan of Anita Sarkeesian since I saw her Manic Pixie Dream Girl video a year or so ago. She’s funny, insightful, and presents these tough issues in a way that’s easy to understand. She’s also recently a star in her own game that someone made in response to the Damsel in Distress video, wherein you kick the crap out of her.

We had the feel good story of a dad hacking Donkey Kong so his daughter could play as Pauline. It’s a feel good story as long as you don’t dive into the comments. Where we’re teaching the girl to be a narcissist because she got what she wanted. Where “the character doesn’t matter” in the scope of the game (brought up by someone who gets to play as their gender 95% of the time).

We had the Samsung Galaxy S4 announcement, wherein stereotypes were played out across the board. Molly Wood addressed the issue and of course, got told to go back to the kitchen.

I wish I could say this was a bad week on the internet. But it wasn’t  It was an incredibly average week on the internet. If it wasn’t normal, than sites like Fat, Ugly, or Slutty (a site that calls out gamers for saying awful things to women) wouldn’t exist. It’s just for some reason, this week it’s become a topic of discussion. So, let’s discuss.

Geek culture has a history of not being overly female positive. Sure we try to pretend that we’re super female positive and beyond the pettiness of typical pop culture, but the reality is much different. Yes, we have some fantastic female characters (Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams, I’m looking in your direction). But for every Commander Shepard, we have an army of Dead or Alive girls. Even our strong women walk around as sex objects, the ridiculousness of which is pointed out by the Hawkeye Initiative. And sadly, as I was working on this post I saw this article about how the upcoming game Remember Me had trouble getting published because it has a female lead.

It’s just not just our media, in real life women are expected to meet a certain stereotype or else be labeled fake. You should have the right look, and not be too pretty or too ugly. If you don’t know every nuance of a fandom, you are obviously just doing it to get a guy. It’s not that you’re new to something, or even just a casual fan of something, it’s that you’re manipulating the poor men. I’m not even going to enter into the realm of booth babes here. Or the way women report being treated when they are cosplaying.

 On a personal level, I recently wrote about the Mass Effect 3 ending. I liked it, which is a very unpopular opinion. I wanted to talk about why so I did what comes naturally, I wrote a post. I got quite a few hits, and a lot from one site. So I went to check it out. It was full of “this is why women shouldn’t be in the military.” “Get back in the kitchen.” Of course with the mandatory white knight jumping in with a comment along the lines of “I thought about posting about how with girls what else would you expect. But I didn’t  and you all should follow my lead.” I was relieved that this response was away from my site, on a community I don’t frequent, so I could just ignore it. I get it if you don’t agree with me. I get it if you think I’m a horrible writer. Call me a dumbass.  Explain how I just don’t “get it.” But don’t call me out on my gender.

Let’s come full circle and back to the Sarkeesian story, which was the main inspiration for this post. Ethan over at Horrible Night wrote a post on her video, and more importantly the reaction to it. It was a great post and I agree with most of what was said. Except for when he classifies those who are indifferent about the video. Those who ignore or deny the problem. Ethan claims they aren’t helping, but aren’t hurting either. And this is where I disagree. As the classic Edmund Burke quote says, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” So, the question is, what do we do about it?

To be honest, I’m not sure. For the media aspect, the changes will need to be subtle. Earlier this month, Big Bang Theory had an episode where the girls ditched work to go to Disney and get princess makeovers. I may be reading a bit too much into a sitcom, but I loved this. It showed that women can be brilliant scientists, but still fight over who gets to dress as Cinderella. Conversely, with Penny not being that into it, it showed that just because you’re “the pretty one” doesn’t mean you want to be a princess. Almost like we’re more than just a caricature. We need moments like this to be normal. Where we giggle because it reminds us of our friends.

As far as the hateful stuff that goes around our communities, especially online, we need to stop ignoring it. This isn’t to say feed the trolls. But use that report button on hateful comments. Downvote sexist “jokes” and memes when you’re in communities like reddit. Don’t downvote to oblivion mind you, just so it falls further down in the list. If you run a site/community don’t leave it up to the readers/users to call out this stuff. Moderate it. It doesn’t add to the discussion and is just distracting anyway.

We have the opportunity, while everyone is talking about it, to begin to make some meaningful changes within our culture. Let’s not squander it.

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8 Responses to “A Girl in Geek Culture…”
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