Geek Girls

I’m pretty sure a lot of people don’t know what to make of me. I feel equally comfortable gasping over a gorgeous dress or pair of shoes and correcting someone when they quote Star Wars incorrectly. I have a deep emotional investment in both Hokie football and Doctor Who. I’m a 33 year old woman who is positively squeeing over the fact that, when Mike and I go to Orlando in a few months, I’ll get to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I love super hero movies and think Phil Coulson, (or Clark Gregg even) should be my freebie. I get giddy when I fuck up someone’s Munchkin battle. I was shocked when someone told me that her child dressing up as Spock for Halloween was weird. When someone says they’ve never seen Lord of the Rings, I stare at them blankly because I literally can’t comprehend how that can be true. (Not figuratively. Literally!) I was bothered for several days after Chris Hardwick was wrong about something in Star Wars on @midnight. I didn’t tweet him about it, though. I’m a geek, not a dick.

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Photo by Victory Comics

I was a geek before I even knew that word described me. I was a geek back when the word still had a negative connotation and it was weird that my favorite movie, as a 12 year old girl, was Return of the Jedi. Fortunately, geekery has become culturally normative.
Unfortunately, it’s still weird that I’m a girl woman and a geek. I interact with other female geeks so often that I sometimes forget that it’s still not always okay to use the words “Star Trek” in a sentence. Seriously, you will never encounter a more baffled group of people than upper-middle class suburban moms after you’ve said something geeky.

I’ve been fortunate in that no one has been aggressive toward me for being a geek, but there are plenty of women who have endured verbal and sexual assault and threats of physical and sexual violence. (I won’t even link to the Tweets she screen capped and tweeted because of how upsetting they are. They are truly horrific.) But I have been on the receiving end of stares when I’ve walked into a tabletop gaming store. I have been excluded from gaming, either because the guys didn’t think I’d want to play or didn’t want me there. There have been times when someone has assumed that something geeky belonged to Mike. I have been hurt when people have suggested, or flat out said, that the things I like are stupid or juvenile. And it’s not just me.

“Going to a video game store, the male employees act completely befuddled and stunned when you start speaking intelligently about games or asking pertinent questions that make it clear you are a serious gamer.”

“We also get comments about how we must just be pretending to snare a guy.”

“Yeah, I totally spent months farming materials in Warcraft just to ‘impress a guy.'”

“I ran into a bit of opposition doing admin work for an iPhone game that was a mmorpg. Because I was female, they automatically assumed I didn’t have authority or that I didn’t know as much as the guys.”

“I got a lot of, ‘run along and let the big boys talk'”.

“I’m in database and software engineering… Most of my experiences haven’t been negative but just weird/’you know guys don’t get this crap’. Recently joined a new guild on WoW and a guy immediately has to ask me my hair color.”

“I play a fantasy-style iPad game where you can make your character female, but the NPCs still refer to every character as “sir” or “lad” or the instructions are phrased like your hero is male. It can’t be that hard to program for both options, but it feels like they assume everyone playing is a guy, whether their avatar is male or female.”

“I’ve gotten “you’re too old to like Harry Potter” once or twice…”

I hope that we female geeks will continue, or even begin, to be open about who we are. Even if you’re not a geek in the stereotypical sci-fi/fantasy sense, be passionate and transparent about what makes you happy. Whatever your obsession, be it music, theater, knitting, books, cooking, or fantasy football, be proud of it. May we all be so lucky as to love something enough that it causes us to twitch when someone says something incorrect about it.

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