Friday, April 15, 2011

Girl, Geek, but Not a Girl Geek

So, the big thing today in my internet circles in the New York Times' article on the HBO Game of Thrones series. According to it, women are only interested in fantasy for the sex, and HBO had to add sexual plot lines to woo viewers. Um. No. There's an excellent rebuttal over at Geeks with Curves, which says everything I want to on the subject, only better. There's also an article about Game of Thrones that gets it right, or at least right-er because there's more to viewing habits than just "strong women characters". I love strong women, but I'll watch or read things without strong women if I'm promised superheroes, space ships, gun fights, sword fights, aliens, explosions, really awesome scenery, allegories, intrigue, and/or popcorn. I suspect I'm not alone.

You'll have noticed, of course, that most things on that list, with the exceptions of scenery, allegories, and popcorn, are stereotypically male things. Girls are supposed to like romance, male eye candy, frills, flowers, baking, fabric arts, and children, leaving everything else to men. Lots do. I do. I too got all gooey at the end of Pride and Prejudice and through most of Julie and Julia. I am inordinately fond of musicals. I did ballet. I can bake cakes and cookies and enjoy doing so. One of my favourite tops is pink; the other has flowers. But that's not all I am. Not by a long shot. I like a lot of guy stuff too (see the list above). I hate skirts, make-up, and styling my hair. I get as excited over pictures of swords as I do pictures of kittens, and I watch crime shows for the science and dead bodies more than I watch for the shipping—though if Booth and Brennan, and Castle and Beckett don't get together eventually, I'll scream.

In short, I'm a geek. Does my sex determine what parts of geekdom I enjoy? No. Does my gender? Well, culturally yes. I might've gotten into gaming if the guys playing Magic in the school library thought girls could play too, for instance. Then again, when I hinted, at the age of 5, about Nintendo, my parents said no, we'd rather you read books, and that played a part too. Of course, these days I thank them for that. But, point is, being female doesn't mean liking only feminine things. Many women like fewer girl things than I do (and many like more, including the girl I went to District 9 with). It should be culturally acceptable to stand up in a pink floral dress, with cleavage, and say, "That alien invasion was awesome, I want to dissect something, and I'm signing up for broadsword lessons."

Luckily, we're getting there. The movement for strong female characters is part of that, as that's a way to prove to men (and women) that women don't have to like only girl things, that they don't have to be passive and shallow, and that they can be just as active and masculine as men, should they choose. There's a whole anti-'girl gamer' movement too, where women who game are trying to make headway against the stereotypes of 'girl gamers are less good', 'girl gamers are hot', and 'girl gamers like pink, frilly characters'. Because of my tastes, I occasionally end up in aisles or theatres with a heavy male presence, and though I'm looked askance at sometimes, and though I think a guy once left the SF aisle just because I entered it, I've never felt unwelcome and nobody's pulled chauvinist crap with me because of it. There've been guys who've been pleasantly surprised to see my reviews littering the shelves of the SF section at work.

However, as the NYT article that started this post proves, female geeks haven't made it quite yet. The writers says she doesn't know anyone who'd pick The Hobbit over Lorrie Moore, which is all well and good, and it's already been pointed out that she could've gone looking for female Game of Thrones fans. Perhaps she didn't look because it didn't occur to her that such people could exist? She wouldn't be alone in that. Lots of people are surprised by geek women, especially, I think, scientist and engineer women, and that needs to change. We're just as smart and just as normal as men. We deserve the same recognition and ubiquity.

I may be a girl. I may be a geek. But I won't answer to 'girl geek' happily at all. I'm just a geek, thank you.


Elena said...

Well said!

Jami Gold said...

I'm with you! :) Women can be well-rounded and strong in so many different ways.

ZarPaulus said...

Those guys at New York Times obviously never read the books, if anything HBO is leaving stuff out.