Last November, some of you guys might have seen a note that I published on my FB timeline called “Why, Yes, We DO Exist! A Rant on the Gendering of Geekdom in the Philippines”. My rage knew no bounds in that note, but I do feel like I had some pretty decent points…
…Which, of course, brings us to this article. I’ll share some of the more lucid(?) excerpts of my note here as I go along, because Reasons.
Guys, ask yourselves right now. Why do you think a lot of girls choose to not get involved in conventions, or in any geeky practice whatsoever? Why do you think they avoid your Facebook groups, your forums, your parties in MMORPGs and MOBAs? Why do you think girls who actually DO want to write about the things they geek over rarely EVER bother joining a blog team?
Full disclosure: the main reason why I wanted to make GGG happen was I felt as though there just wasn’t a proper space for geek girls of any gender preference – especially geek girls in the Philippines – did not have a safe space to talk about what they loved. Note: that was in 2012. It’s been four years, and while a hell lot has changed on the geek scene, old and damaging biases remain. Heck, the years after that have seen a dangerous rise in cyberbullying against women of all inclinations, LGBTQ members of our geek community, and any sensible heterosexual male who attempts to go against the flow. Things might have slowed down since last year, but glaring incidents of micro-aggression remain. Take, for example, how feminism as a term and as an ideology is constantly under fire. Consider, as well, the derogatory use of “Social Justice Warrior”, as though every single post that isn’t Happy Happy Joy Joy Times about geekdom and geeky things is automatically written off as ridiculous whining.
It’s because shit like this goes around our circles every damned day. It’s because in spite of the fact that it’s 2015, people CONTINUE to draw lines in the sand between who and what “male geeks” are versus “female geeks”. It’s because there is always some sort of stupid belief that girls are mythical unicorns and must be handled a certain way, and can only like certain things, or do certain things. It’s because if they don’t conform to these ridiculous standards, they’re somehow Not Geeks At All. It’s because sometimes, we get the feeling that we only exist to be the pretty ones that light up your lives with our magnanimous presence at your events, that maybe we are walking chances at fulfilling your wet, dating sim dreams.We constantly have to justify who we are and what we like alongside the fact that we happen to have tits and a vagina instead of a dick. Whenever we DON’T do this, we lose respect and credibility. Whenever we complain, we’re written off as people getting mad because of our biological sex (“oh, she’s just on her period, ignore her!”/“What a feminist.”).
Up until now, I continue to get girls coming to me about helping Girls Got Game or What’s a Geek out, and the number one reason why they hesitate is because they fear the internet backlash that they’ll end up getting if they share so-called “unpopular opinions” in their circles, or in blogs. And before anybody tries to pull the whole “but guys get bullied too!” card, don’t be daft. Yes, both are issues. No, I wasn’t trying to write off your individual experiences in favor of highlighting mine. This isn’t a damned pissing contest.
I’ve got a painfully recent example of this happening to me. I published a review on Blue is the Warmest Color for What’s a Geek. Ade Magnaye, one of my co-admins, shared the review on “2 Film 2 Furious”, a highly active FB group under UFEG. The discussion started out pretty neutral, until a guy climbed on spitting fire over my entire review. He started off with the belief that films were only meant to entertain its audience (!!!). According to him, my unfavorable opinion of the movie was automatically wrong because I felt that it had an incredibly poor representation of lesbians and lesbian relationships. When other members of the group pointed out the flaws in his argument, he devolved into sniping about how his opinion was being written off because he was a “straight male”.
We call guys like him “mansplainers”. Look the term up. It’s kind of sad how it’s become a thing.
Female geeks exist, guys, and they are PERFECTLY CAPABLE of liking the same things as guy geeks do, and doing the same things as guy geeks do, and being as good/bad/crazy awesome at it as they are, AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT THEY’RE FEMALE.Wake up and join the 21st Century.We are NOT unicorns. We are TIRED of all you fuckers constantly gendering geekdom and making every single discussion a fight between the sexes.And we’re very, VERY angry about it.
I now realize that I was less mad about the gendering of geekdom and MORE mad about the tendency we all have to see a poster’s gender first before listening to what he or she has to say. Products of pop culture, as with all other forms of art and expression, are political. They can’t help but BE political, even if its creators didn’t mean for their branchildren to end up that way. They are products of someone coming form a particular cultural context. They did not emerge from a void.
Gender is just one aspect of the many under that umbrella. If somebody is bothered about something in a comic or a show or a game, chances are that they’re bothered for a reason. They might not have the adequate words to articulate it, but it’s always, always worth looking into. No one (yes, even mansplainers and those special snowflakes on Tumblr), whine/rant/rage without reason. Instead of simply writing them off, try to figure out why, and try to see if they’re willing to talk about it properly. There’s discourse, and then there’s wanking. Many geeks are yet to learn the difference, and even those who do more than occasionally need reminders.
And for Cthulu’s sake, people, please do your research. I get a mini-heart attack every single time someone bitches about feminism and feminists as if they know everything about the movement. I’m six years into an MA for Literary and Cultural Studies, and I STILL don’t know everything.
We’re just two months into a new year of geekdom and geek communities. It’s my sincerest wish that 2016 will see less crap of this kind floating around on the internet.