Friday, June 7, 2013

Guest Post: The Nerding of America and Why it Still Sucks for Girls by Beth V

This will not be a feminist rant. I like my drinks paid for, my doors opened for me, and my spiders squashed. Not on any principle or anything. It's just that drinks are expensive, doors are heavy, and spiders are creepy. I'm an anti-feminist out of laziness more than anything.

I am also a proud, card carrying nerd. I love video games from FPS to RPG. I read comics from Marvel to all of the books based on all of Joss Whedon's canceled TV shows. I own 8 lightsabers, and have at least 20 zombie novels on my kindle. I remember when Doctor Who was just a crazy bug eyed man in a ridiculously long scarf. I also know a few other girls with very similar tastes. We are a part of the nerd community.

Or at least we're supposed to be.

Ever since video games hit the next gen, and every comic book ever written became a big budget movie everyone seems to be into something nerdy. When I walk through the mens' department at Target with my husband and see Marvel and DC t-shirts everywhere and I wonder “what options do they have in the womens' department?”. The answer? None. Women get shirts with flowerdy peace signs and Hello Kitty. I like Hello Kitty and all, but I know the X-Men way better than some kid in a slim fit t who just bought it because he thought a movie was cool. So where's my t-shirt? I know that I can go online and order anything I want in a girl style from Jinx or some other hip nerd site the point is that I shouldn't have to. I also have this aversion to buying clothes without knowing how they're going to fit. The online return process is grueling. 

Even when I went to Mavel-town at Universal Studios they didn't have the heroes I wanted up for sale. I wanted a women's' cut shirt of a good character. Could I get Deadpool or Psylocke? Hell, I'd have taken Gambit. But no, according to their women's' shirt selections, as a girl I'm only allowed to like Rogue, Jean Grey, or Storm. Rogue and Jean Grey are alright I guess, but I have always disliked Storm. And there are much better choices in that universe. The X-Men are a huge group of super and semi super heroes. It's like if they only allowed guys to choose from Forge, Cypher, or a character who’s only power is the ability to fold socks with his mind. Men wouldn't stand for such poor options from such a huge and diverse group. As a nerdy woman I deserve the same options as a nerdy man. I love slave Leia every bit as much as I like bounty hunter disguise Leia. A girl's gotta have costume choices here every bit as much as in a galaxy far far away. This is why I buy Star Wars t-shirts from Old Navy. It's the only place I've found anything in an actual women's size that I can try on before I buy it. I don't particularly want to get my nerd gear from Old Navy, but something is always better than nothing.

And it's not just the mass market that ignores us. Non-nerdy women can be downright hostile. Why do you assume that because I'm talking to your boyfriend that I'm trying to steal him? Bitch, if I wanted your man I would make an open and honest go of it. I'm debating the ending of Mass Effect 3 with him because I want to debate the ending of Mass Effect 3 (which I was totally satisfied with in case you're wondering) not because I want to bang him. What is wrong with the female psyche that they think every woman in the world is out to screw her over and steal her man? It offends me when people think that a conversation can't simply be a conversation with no ulterior motives in place. This is also one of the reasons I have so few female friends. Well, that and most women have no interest in the things that I like. It's just as bad with men sometimes. I'm not at Dragon Con to boost my self esteem by seeing how many times I can get hit on by guys who live in their mom's basement. It's supposed to be a safe environment for nerds, and that means for women too. If I wanted your advances I'd be one of the girls wearing a costume that's ridiculously too small for her body. Since I only do costumes for Halloween you should assume I'm there to nerd out in exactly the same way you are. Once you see me pouring out of a “slutty something or other” costume that's at least two sizes too small, I'm fair game. Until then, step off.

I really appreciate games like Mass Effect, Fallout, or Left for Dead where I have the option to play as a girl. It doesn't change the gameplay that much, but it's easier to connect with the story when the character looks and sounds more like me. I think the reason they’ve thrown so much romance into the new Doctor Who is to try and make it accessible for women, so they're trying right? And to be fair, Jinx does offer a women’s' version of all of the men's shirts they sell. It's only my stubbornness about seeing clothing in person before I buy it that keeps me from being able to shop there more. They are also heavily skewed toward W.O.W. which I'm not into, so there's that too.

It's a start. We've “come a long way baby” and all that crap, but there's a long way to go before I feel fully included in the nerd world. Huh. I guess this turned into a feminist rant of sorts after all. I just went a really long and roundabout way to get there. Isn't that just like a woman driver?



  1. Beth:

    You have just said EVERYTHING I've been trying to articulate for a couple weeks, and flailing at. Thank you! Keep the faith, girl - there are lots of us out here. :-D


  2. Thanks Jen. Just glad to have a soappbox, and that someone agrees with me. Nerd girl solidarity!