Geek Girls Exist. We Always Have.

| Friday, May 3, 2013

Today's Tune: Crazy In Love (Gatsby cover)

For context, allow me to direct you to the image that inspired this tweet, which is a quote from one of the new Trek reboot's writers.

Honestly, I really for real do not understand how anyone who's not being intentionally obtuse could still believe that women are not in the Star Trek fandom. Not in the age of the Internet. I mean, it's bad enough that people completely ignore the history of the original Star Trek fans, many of whom were women who forged and attended the first conventions in bulk (more women attended than men! MORE WOMEN THAN MEN!) and campaigned (successfully) to keep the show on the air.

But ON TOP of that, people (the writers of the damn reboot!) are still acting like there's no way to get women to watch science fiction unless they throw a birth scene in at the beginning? When they have access to fan fiction and fan sites and Tumblr? No excuses. None.

You show them, Uhura.
This is sadly not remotely unusual. I've written before about how the marketers behind the science fiction channel have tried to distance themselves from their "geek" image by renaming the SciFi Channel the "SyFy" Channel instead. In this instance, it was because they thought people who deemed themselves cool would refuse to watch science fiction on principle, even though the genre is varied enough to include everything from The Fifth Element to Star Wars to Back to the Future to Eureka.

Likewise, the myth that science fiction is "boy stuff" persists. Science is for boys, politics is for boys, space is for boys, adventure is for boys. STAR TREK IS FOR BOYS. And you'll always find the dudes who hold up a handful of women as representative of their entire gender -- "Well, my girlfriend HATED Battlestar Galactica." It's not at all possible that women are individuals with different tastes, no. The only way a lady could possibly be interested in this stuff is if her boyfriend made her, or she's pretending she likes it to please him.

Sounds remarkably like the persistence of the fake geek girl myth. You know, girls can't be into "nerdy" things because nerdy things are about science and strategy and action, which are inherently male, which means if ladies act like we like those things, we're only doing it for attention. And apparently to seduce innocent nerdboy virgins so we can use their blood as a balm for our overblown egos? Or something?

In the rare instance that people do begrudgingly admit that lady nerds do actually exist, it's almost always in media representations that paint us as unattractive weirdos, displaying overtly masculine-coded traits, or pathetic little gnats. Because nerd ladies are abominations, see? They couldn't possibly allow anyone to believe women are individual people with as much variety to their personalities and preferences as, GASP, men! Never do that!

I can think of ONE geek girl regularly in the popular media that is portrayed in a (mostly) positive light: Felicia Day. One. And even some of her roles are negligible.

This isn't even about science fiction. Not really. It's about territory. Even though women are well established as a significant and involved part of the SFF community, and even though dudes have a very extensive history with being all about flowery emotional literature, people still build these moats. Girls stay over THERE with Fifty Shades and Twilight! Boys stay over HERE with Frodo and Han Solo!

Because admitting that it's possible for women to be individuals rather than a seething mass of frivolity and makeup is a bad idea. We do that, and they might start getting ideas that like, THEY can be the hero! That we're not that special! That maybe they're here because they enjoy the media, not to rub up on us!

I don't know. It's times like these that make me want to go curl up with my cats because I feel like the tides will never turn when people are willfully ignoring the facts in favor of the sexist rhetoric they've been spoon-fed. When you could go on any website and see men and women alike roleplaying, fan vidding, dissecting theories. When ladies are literally the reason Star Trek conventions happened. And it either doesn't register, or you pretend it doesn't exist.

I'm so exhausted from remaining stagnant. Why do we still fight so hard to maintain the status quo when everything about our population is telling us "no, no, no, you do not get to define who I am anymore" in increasingly louder voices due to our growing technology?

When will I get to go to a Star Trek movie and feel good because I know they view me as part of the fandom and not a disgruntled shrew who had to be tricked into it?

Sigh. Thoughts, readers?


{ Andrew Leon } at: May 3, 2013 at 9:53 AM said...

Well, my thoughts are this:
My daughter is a total nerd. She loves Dr. Who, especially, but she's also into Star Wars and Harry Potter (well, HP is acceptable for girls). BUT -she- frequently complains about the lack of other girls at school with her same interests. In fact, she, who is in 4th grade, has to reach all the way up to the a few 8th grade girls that like the same stuff that she does.

So, yes, there are some girls that are geek girls, but, really, they are not the norm. My step-sister-in-law often expresses her thanks to my wife and me not just for introducing her to geekdom but also giving her someone to talk about it with, because she's hard pressed to find other people that share her interests in LotR and Firefly and HP.

{ Christine Ratcliff } at: May 3, 2013 at 6:37 PM said...

The persistence of this mind-set kills me. I've always found science fiction to be some of the most romantic story telling out there.

{ fairyhedgehog } at: May 4, 2013 at 2:21 AM said...

I've loved sci fi since I first discovered it. I think it was John Wyndham or Asimov that was my first sci fi and I must have been just old enough to start using the adult library.

When I filled out my university application form, it never occurred to me to put "science fiction" as an interest because it really wasn't respectable, especially for a girl. I thought we had progressed since then but it seems not.

I do hate stereotypes. I'm female, and science fiction is my main and first love for reading but I also love to crochet. I don't wear makeup (not that unusual in the UK) but I do like pretty sandals when I can find them to fit. I don't fit any of the stereotypes and I don't know anyone who does. So why can't we all be allowed to be ourselves without being squashed by gender?


{ Kristan Hoffman } at: May 4, 2013 at 10:46 AM said...

Men think we WANT to watch birth scenes? That explains a lot about television and movies...

{ MaryAnn Pope } at: May 4, 2013 at 4:25 PM said...

What Kristan said.

Why would a woman giving birth make us girls want to watch it? Where did they even come up with that idea? What about you know giving Uhura a bigger part than Spock's love interest/ hot girl for Kirk to lust for after? Just a thought.

{ Adrianne Russell } at: May 5, 2013 at 3:27 PM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
{ Adrianne Russell } at: May 5, 2013 at 3:28 PM said...

*Sorry for deleting, clicked too fast!*

Considering some sci-fi birth scenes are laughably nonsensical (Looking at you, "Revenge of the Sith" and "Prometheus") there's no way anyone with a lick of common sense should think that's what attracts women to the genre. Female fans are out there, but I think we stay hidden for fear of being labeled weird or abnormal.

{ Heidi } at: May 6, 2013 at 4:33 PM said...

Here's the thing. We can moan all we want about how we're not being taken seriously and not thought of as traditional sci-fi enthusiasts, but we have to DO something about that.

More women need to write sci-fi that is interesting not only for women, but for men, too. And women need to actively pursue productive roles in the making of science fiction movies or television. We can SO do this, it just has to be done often enough for men to sit up and take notice.

Maybe if there were intergalactic prostate exams in movies, men would see how ridiculous it is to try to appeal to women by throwing in a graphic birthing scene.

Great post!

{ H.J. } at: May 25, 2013 at 4:10 PM said...

Of course women have interests in sci-fi! Actually it was a woman, Margaret Cavendish, who wrote the first known "science fiction" book, Blazing World, back in 1666.

{ kurt petrey } at: May 28, 2013 at 12:42 PM said...

I can appreciate your perspective. After reading your article I had to sit back and acknowledge that I have the same problem. I tend to not think of science fiction and fantasy as being a world filled with women. It's primarily man driven. To be honest I haven't given it a lot of thought but I can tell you that the reason I fell that way is not because of anything I've been spoon fed but because of the women I have met in my life. I have not met one woman in my entire 34 years that liked any science fiction movies much less did any reading in the genre. Either they are lying about it to hold up a certain image or I've just had some bad luck with meeting women.

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