I'm a girly-girl. I have a pink PS3 controller, I wear makeup most days (unless I'm traveling... like right now...), I love skirts and purple and pink and lace and romance and unicorns and Benedict Cumberbatch and zOMG SQUEEEEE!
At the same time, I'm totally one of the dudes. I know more about football than a lot of my male friends, I do, indeed, have a PS3, and I am into all sorts of things usually attributed more to fanboys than fangirls. I also eat like a dude, belch like a dude, and swear like a dude.
Notice I'm buying into gender norms and hegemonic discourses (DRINK!) of heterornormative masculinity. Thing is, we're conditioned to think this way, whether we realize it or not. And I think that has a lot to do with why women and girls have such a harder time in nerd culture. I'll start with an example from my childhood.
When I was in seventh grade, I was all into Lisa Frank and *NSync and Backstreet Boys and rainbows. But I also, really, really, REALLY wanted to play Pokemon and Magic: The Gathering, too. But that wasn't a "girl" thing, so my little girlfriends that I'd normally make flower necklaces and crowns with during lunch would have none of it. So I had to go ask the boys if they'd let me join in. On more than one occasion, I went up to them at their table where they'd be playing one of the card games I so desperately wanted to play, and they'd say no, I couldn't play, I was a girl. Girls are icky. Pee-yoo.
What the fuck.
So I thought, in that great, I-Know-Everything-Because-I'm-Eleven kinda way (I swear, I hate middle schoolers- I hated them then, I hate them now)- I thought if I dressed like a boy, I'd be admitted into the club. The YOUNG boys' club. So I decided to not wear my bedazzled belbottoms and flowery shirts and jelly sandals to school, but instead I wanted cargo pants and Dragon Ball Z t-Shirts, from the boys' section at JCPenny. That was pretty much my self-imposed school uniform. Oh sure, I'd wear purple and pink on weekends, but if there was ever a chance one of those poopy boys from school would see me, you could bet your boots I'd be in a (swoon) Vegeta* or (gasp) Piccolo** or (HUUUGE SWOON (while fanning self)) Trunks shirt and some baggy jeans with a crap-ton of pockets***. And did it work?
No. Of course not.
For starters, they all knew me beforehand- I was a social butterfly, and while never Popular, pretty much everybody in my grade always knew who I was because I've always been sociable and affable. Also, it was kind of hard to hide that I was a girl- I had a young girl's body, complete with very distinct yabbos, even under the boxy shirts and loose pant legs. Even if I had met a boy I didn't know somehow, he'd realize I was a girl before I was even done walking toward him. The bounce under the picture said enough.
And who knows how long I would have lasted, had it not been for getting my pant leg caught on a nail one day and losing a chunk of my knee in the process- I swore off cargo pants as I was bleeding all over the carpet, but I was probably using the pain and loss of lifeforce as an excuse to go back to girly-all-the-time.
Because I was exhausted. I was sick of trying to prove myself to the boys. I had been at it for over a year. And to no avail. I was not accepted, I was made fun of. I was still shunned, I was still an outcast.
Middle school sucks ass. I was lucky in that my girlfriends were still really nice to me, for the most part. There was this one that stopped hanging out with me when I went back to bellbottoms, and she actually ended up trying to beat me up during eighth grade (she started it, but gorrammit, I finished that fight, thank you very much), but for the most part, I didn't lose any friends in the process.
What I did lose was a sense of fairness. I realized then, more than ever, that "boys will be boys" wasn't just about their rough-and-tumble "nature." It was about their protective disposition toward things they felt were "theirs."
So to get back to the jargony stuff a little, the way I see it, boys are conditioned into certain behaviors and "likes" and they're trained to think of them as "their" domain, as something boys/men and boys/men alone have jurisdiction over. It's about control, about subordination of women and non-straights. In order for it to be "okay" for a woman to participate, she has to pass a test. And if she has the audacity to step into a man's domain without permission, she's met with at least surprise, if not flat-out adversary responses. She's tresspassing, she's violating not just social and geopolitical norms, but she's violating the very men she's encountering. And non-straights, they're trouble, too, because they dance along that line between male and female (as if there's one solid black line, rather than multiple axes of continuums of femininity and masculinity) (yeah, I obviously believe in the latter), and the fact that they can't take a side is almost worse than females being where they ought to be (i.e.. in the kitchen).
To be less jargony. It's really pathetic that today, I still frequently get bug-eyes from men when they realize I'm as nerdy as they. And it doesn't always happen, but I often get interrogated by them in a really hostile manner, as if I have to prove my expertise before they consider me "legit."
Articles and sentiments like this load of fecal matter here (and it being written by a woman is worthy of a very long tangent in itself) make me so gorram angry, my eye twitches and I taste blood in my mouth as I bite the inside of my cheek in ire. They imply that a girl can't like sewing and Nintendo, that unless a girl go that extra mile and have no life other than her nerdery, she's a phony and only in it to get some penis.
|Because ANY girl expressing interest in a modernversion of an oldschool thing is a poser and a|
succubus and will slice off your scrotum in your sleep, amirite? Because
dudes and *real* nerds NEVER like new things or new incarnations...
There's absolutely no need to litmus test people. And particularly females. There have always been nerdy, geeky girls doing the same things as the boys- I was playing the original NES system when I was five, and never not had a console until I started college. Fuck, my parents let me STAY HOME FROM SCHOOL to play video games if ones in certain series came out during the school year (usually survival horror, like Resident Evil and Silent Hill). But somehow I'm not legit because I wear makeup and have painted nails as I shoot those zombies in the eye? I still have to show up to four different Magic tournaments, this last by myself, before the guys realize hm, maybe this chick actually likes it and isn't playing just because that guy she's always with plays, too (true story). I had to make it to the final round without my best friend at the time, that happened to be a male, there before the dudes I usually played in tournaments with during college finally stopped acting like I didn't belong.
Please. Spare me.
It reminds me of the supercrip stuff I've talked about before. Parallels it very nicely. Girl gamers and geeks in nerd culture are like disabled people writ large- we have this impossibly high standard to which we're held, and the ones that reach it are presented as the "true" thing, and anyone that doesn't reach it is less than whole, not a real geek.
Not a real person.
It's pretty crappy that just because I have something awesome like boobs (for example****), it's assumed I know nothing and can't be good, until I am, and then why can't every girl be like me?
It's bad enough that I have trouble finding characters in the media I love so much that I can relate to, characters that are like me because hey, maybe they get cramps, too, and they have to figure out ways to contain The Girls and all that kinda jazz. I mean, don't get me wrong, I can relate to male characters. But the underrepresentation of female characters worth getting to know is hard enough. Being marginalized by having to constantly try to prove myself makes me feel like I'm back in middle school, and those mean-ass boys are still refusing to let me play with them.
Because the mentality and maturity behind the forty-year-old manchild that freaks out when he sees a female gamer is on the same level as those middle school boys in my past. And it's just plain sad. For us ladies, sure, but for those dudes, too.
Now before you go blowing up at me, I recognize there are a ton of dudes that don't think about the "fake geek girls" and stuff- and those are the dudes I hang out with. So if you're a male friend of mine and reading this, it doesn't apply to you.
There are enough males in Geekdom that I feel this pervasive stranglehold on my throat all the time, and I just want to say, I have nothing to prove.
*I had two different shirts with this picture. Two.
**Green and gorgeous.
***Why the fuck don't women's pants have that many pockets? Another conspiracy of the clothing industry. Such bullshit.
****HAH! You thought it'd be porn, didn't you? DIDN'T YOU!?