Friday, October 12, 2012

"Geekdom is a Nation with Open Borders"

I'm going to take Courtney's lead and start posting more informal blog posts on this, well, blog. And to start with, I'd like to draw your attention to what I think is a great article by author John Scalzi called "Who Gets to be a Geek?" 

Scalzi's article touches on a subject this is very close to home for me. This is getting somewhat personal, but Courtney and I had an argument not to long ago about the sentiment or intention behind the "Idiot Nerd Girl" meme. I'm not going to link it. If you haven't seen it before, Google it. I think as a male geek, I just didn't understand how that meme could be so hurtful, but I do now.

As male and female nerds, both our fanboy/fangirl obsessions initially came from a position of feeling like we were social outcasts as kids. Nerd culture was a safe haven for us, a place where we could indulge our own imaginations and fantasies with whatever obscure popular culture we could find.

But here's the thing: there is no such place. Everything we fantasize about, all of our fictions, have their origins in real life, and our entertainments, whether we want to accept this or not, are products of that world. Using comics as an example, we can see this in a book's use of politics, the depiction of its male and female characters as strong or weak, even the poses of their bodies are political statements. Sex is almost always political. Marvel's Civil War is a comic that was blatantly political, but every comic is representative of the politics and beliefs of its creators. This is why Batman used to carry a gun.

Comics can be very sexist, and self-entitled beta male nerds have shown that they are capable of horrendous misogyny. Especially on the internet. There is something wrong with a culture, any culture, that seeks to exclude women from participating solely on the basis that are women.

It's time to address this problem.

Guys, it's time to grow up. Girls can be nerds too. Girls are super nerdy. Some of the biggest nerds I know are girls. About 50% of my tabletop gaming group is composed of women. One of my best friends drives around with the trunk of her car absolutely FULL of board games (Talisman, Catan, you name it, it's in there). A few weeks ago Courtney spent more money on comics than I did! It's time to let the nerd-girls in and stop acting like they are what is destroying nerd culture, or little kids who think Jar-Jar is cooler than C-3PO, your non-nerd friend who thought the Avengers was cool, and LGBT nerds who want to see characters who represent their orientation. Alan Scott being gay isn't going to destroy comics, and it won't kill you if every superheroine isn't posed like a porn star.

You know what will kill nerd culture? Nerds. Nerds who aggressively try to scare off everyone who might also be interested in nerdy things (even if that's just dressing up in costume) just because they don't meet some kind of special qualifications for being a geek.

This is why I'm boycotting for posting this horrendous comic strip on "The Six Supervillains of Nerd Culture," and will not be buying Batman #13, in which this ad appeared. DC Comics should be ashamed for publishing such a blatantly misogynistic ad in their comic (an ad which, I should mention, didn't appear in this week's issue of Batgirl).

To finish this long rant, here's a quote from Scalzi, who writes:

"Geekdom is a nation with open borders. There are many affiliations and many doors into it. There are lit geeks, media geeks, comics geeks, anime and manga geeks. There are LARPers, cosplayers, furries, filkers, crafters, gamers and tabletoppers. There are goths and horror geeks and steampunkers and academics. There are nerd rockers and writers and artists and actors and fans. Some people love only one thing. Some people flit between fandoms. Some people are positively poly in their geek enthusiasms. Some people have been in geekdom since before they knew they were geeks. Some people are n00bs, trying out an aspect of geekdom to see if it fits. If it does, great. If it doesn’t then at least they tried it."


  1. Great post, Christian. There's been a lot of this floating around teh toobz these days. It's good that we (the internet) are talking about this kind of thing. This article is quite long but I read it a few weeks ago, and think it has some interesting things to say:

  2. That is an EPIC article, but very well spoken and articulates some things I have also been thinking about lately. I know very little about MtG but I do remember the Gizmodo article referenced and the tidal wave of bile that the internet spewed forth.

    Thanks for the link and thanks for reading!