This morning I got up, made coffee, assembled a breakfast of a hardboiled egg and freshly baked christmas cookies, and started scrolling through the twitters. I saw this tweet, felt crotchety, and fired off a tweet of my own: Does Patton Oswalt realize this joke is where the fake geek girl myth comes from? I was disappointed, because I like that guy’s stuff, and I usually identify with his jokes, because they feel like in-jokes for me and my crowd. Then I still felt crotchety, so here we are.
I’ve seen this general thing in a few places lately on the internet, this idea that sci-fi/fantasy, fan space, and the internet are things by and for virginal men. Which makes about as much sense to me as saying that they are by and for only cat lovers.*
This image of “geeks” being unfuckable troglodyte males has really got to go! Was this ever true? I don’t know, maybe, but not in my time in fandom. I’ve spent my life having numerous friends both in and out of fandom, with no particular gender divide. That is, if the stereotype were true, all my nerd friends would have been male, and that just isn’t the case.
And I’m not exactly a snot-nosed baby millenial here, either. I’m in my thirties. I may not be familiar with all of fandom history – I’ve never seen a mimeographed fanzine, for instance – but I do have a little bit of time and a lot of grey hairs on my side. When I found fandom fifteen years ago, it was like water for a dying houseplant. It was energizing, diverse, and fun. If it had been a collection of unattractive males living in their parents’ basements that I had to break into by trickery, sluttiness, or a cold slog of paying dues, I wouldn’t have loved it and I wouldn’t have stuck around. So yeah, maybe this icky fantasy of a stereotype was once true for some people, but if so, we are way beyond it now, so can we toss that baggage off the Cliffs of Insanity already?
You know what traits most geeks I know have in common? They’re enthusiastic, smart, and laugh a lot. In fandom spaces and on the internet, we’re conversing, socializing, making jokes, and having ideas, even though some of us are introverted or have social anxiety or both. There’s so much joy and laughter in our shared culture, that it makes me angry when people label it in hideous ways. The “sex-obsessed untouchable” part of the stereotype enrages me more than the “all males” part, because it is more personal and cruel.
Know what the joy and laughter of shared culture can lead to? Love, friendship, sex.** Know what misrepresenting yourself and your culture as a homogenous blur of vaginaless cave-dwellers leads to? Sitting around in a dark hut with all the other dwarves eating stale straw and turnips.*** I think I’ll just frolic in a circle around those jerks, thanks.
* Which I also actually saw in the wild recently! That expose-y article thingy about the Oatmeal mentioned that the creator had a dog comic that he wasn’t going to post because the internet only likes cats. I think that’s how it went, anyway, and I don’t want to look it up to check.
** Love and friendship don’t “lead to” sex. Many people don’t even have sex as a goal. These are simply three possible outcomes which are related to, not dependent on, each other.
*** Not to malign turnips, a perfectly cromulent vegetable. Also, don’t get pissy with me for using something out of the Last Battle if the reason you don’t like it was that you got tricked by the series and felt betrayed when it turned out to be all Christian allegory. I first read Narnia in my church library between activities on Sunday mornings, so I always knew what it was.