18 May 2016

Disturbing the Peace: The Importance of Geekery

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So there have been a ton of kerfluffles recently concerning women's place in geek culture. Now that we've gotten not one but TWO female leads in Star Wars (Rey in The Force Awakens and Jyn Erso in Rogue One), geekdom has nearly collapsed on itself. And by that I mean about .01% of a very vocal population decided that it was bad enough to have Rey, but Jyn was just too much.

Somehow, over the course of...pretty much forever...men have found ways to exclude women from pretty much everything. Treating us as chattel, property, second-class citizens, using feminine traits as a way to demean and emasculate other men, using female sex organs as insults....Betty White has an amazing quote regarding that, btw. Until 1833, there weren't co-ed universities. Until 1835, women couldn't own property anywhere in the US (thanks, Arkansas!), and even that came with restrictions.

We've made it to 2016. In the last 181 years, since women could own, but not control, property in Arkansas if their husbands were incapacitated, we've made significant strides. We can vote, we can drive, we can own and control property with or without a husband. We've gone to space, we serve in the military, we hold down jobs traditionally left to men. Hey, there's even 20 women CEOs in Fortune 500 companies! Wait...that...that's 4%. Which means 96% of CEOs are men.

This statistic seems to fit in with geekdom, too. There's 8 billion blogs in the world that cover the ratio of female superheroes to male superheros in terms of comic book sales, and others like Feminist Frequency (one of my favorites) that discuss the amount of female and minority video game protagonists versus straight white male, which is sometimes referred to as the status quo or the Easy setting. I've discussed these things before here, here, and here as well, so I won't bore you with details.

Again? ...Always. This pic is always applicable.
What disturbs me more often than not is this concept of the "Fake ____ Girl." Fake geek girl. Fake football girl. Fake car girl. Fake fake fake. As though women need to fake anything up to fit in anywhere. We're women. We have boobs. Everything's fine. But no, when women take up an interest in ANYTHING perceived as male-oriented or dominated, then suddenly that Fake tag gets added on.

Let me tell y'all a little story. My dad grew up with three brothers. Most of his cousins are male, too. As it stands right now, there's only 4 girls on his side of the family--my sister, me, my cousin, and my uncle's stepdaughter. When my mom got pregnant with my sister, and then with me, he had zero idea what to do with girls because he had little experience with raising them. Sure, my cousin was with them a lot, but that's watching, not rearing. So my mom, in her eternal and infinite wisdom, told him, "Just do what you'd do with boys." I imagine her saying that with a nonchalant shrug and a half smile, looking at him lovingly and thinking, Duh.

In essence, that's what happened. Dad took us fishing. A lot. Taught us to bait our own hooks, taught me to clean our catches, to do a proper fish fry. With my sister, he built things for the house and taught her to build her own things. With me, he caught an inkling of my interest in speculative fiction, and he fostered the crap out of it through movies. Star Wars. Horror movies. Last Star Fighter. If it had even a hint of science fiction or fantasy involved, we watched it. Sci-Fi Saturdays were our thing, to the mutual chagrin of my mother and sister, and it was through these glimpses into What if? that my career actually began, though I wouldn't be published until much later.

I often took refuge in science fiction and fantasy, especially superhero tales. I didn't have a collection of comic books because A) I lived in a small mountain town where they weren't readily available and B) I was too busy reading novels and playing video games. I was sickly as a kid, so I retreated to these worlds where awesome people were doing awesome things. I watched the 90s animated shows religiously. X-Men, Spiderman, Batman the Animated Series, & Superman were my absolute favorites. I also obsessively watched the Justice League. I ate up the movies and sought out everything I could. But there was always a disconnect. X-Men gave me the awesomeness of Storm. My love, my life, my inspiration. But the main focus was Wolverine. Spiderman gave me Mary Jane and Black Cat, but again, they were side characters. Batman gave me a PLETHORA of amazing ladies, from Catwoman to Harley to Ivy to FREAKING BARBARA GORDON OMG BARB YAAAAAAAAAAS. But there was still a problem: they were still side characters, and we won't even discuss the abusive relationship between Joker and Harley or the sexualization of literally everyone. My point is that women so infrequently get to take center stage that these moments when we get our Reys and our Jyns, it's a BFD.

However, I'm not a geek if I don't know everything. I'm not a fan if I can't name every person who ever worked on the X-Men comics, or if I can't tell you who created Ra's al-Ghul (spoiler alert, it's Neal Adams, whom I've met), or if I don't know every continuation or retcon of a series. For every Olivia Munn who knows her character's history and fights to have her character portrayed accurately, there's a Charlie Cox, who didn't even know Daredevil was blind until he auditioned for the part. But it's cool because he has a penis.

Here's my point, and I want you to underline it, bold it, print it on a flyer and hand it out to everyone you know: Geekdom is not just for boys; it's for everyone. For everyone who's ever needed an escape. For everyone who needs a hero. For everyone who needs to become their own hero. Art does not belong to one person or a certain group. Art is for whomever it speaks to, and it does not, nor has it ever, required a gatekeeper.

And if it ever does, IT WON'T BE YOU.






Being one of the Embassy’s glorified treasure-seekers has its perks… 
Komandan Uriah Jacobs recovers ancient artifacts in exchange for more than just decent pay; he also receives guaranteed protection from his former owners, the nyx…until an emergency landing on a too-familiar colony brings him face-to-face with his past life and something more—a surprisingly priceless treasure in the form of a human woman. 

A slave to the nyx since childhood… 
Shadi spends her waking hours in the forge, dreaming of rescuing her brother with the help of a man she once worshipped like a father. A crashed ship on the colony becomes her only hope to escape. But before she can steal the ship, the pilot abducts her. They may be the same species, but will he help her find her Shilah? 

Their attraction is undeniable… 
Fighting it seems inconsequential as they evade the nyx's bounty hunter and uncover a conspiracy that shines unwanted light on Shadi's past and reveals the corruption in Uri’s beloved Embassy, placing their fledgling love in danger. 

As the universe systematically falls apart, will Shadi and Uri’s newfound passion be enough to keep them alive? 

Being one of the Embassy’s glorified treasure-seekers has its perks… 
Komandan Uriah Jacobs recovers ancient artifacts in exchange for more than just decent pay; he also receives guaranteed protection from his former owners, the nyx…until an emergency landing on a too-familiar colony brings him face-to-face with his past life and something more—a surprisingly priceless treasure in the form of a human woman. 

A slave to the nyx since childhood… 
Shadi spends her waking hours in the forge, dreaming of rescuing her brother with the help of a man she once worshipped like a father. A crashed ship on the colony becomes her only hope to escape. But before she can steal the ship, the pilot abducts her. They may be the same species, but will he help her find her Shilah? 

Their attraction is undeniable… 
Fighting it seems inconsequential as they evade the nyx's bounty hunter and uncover a conspiracy that shines unwanted light on Shadi's past and reveals the corruption in Uri’s beloved Embassy, placing their fledgling love in danger. 

As the universe systematically falls apart, will Shadi and Uri’s newfound passion be enough to keep them alive? 

Being one of the Embassy’s glorified treasure-seekers has its perks… 
Komandan Uriah Jacobs recovers ancient artifacts in exchange for more than just decent pay; he also receives guaranteed protection from his former owners, the nyx…until an emergency landing on a too-familiar colony brings him face-to-face with his past life and something more—a surprisingly priceless treasure in the form of a human woman. 

A slave to the nyx since childhood… 
Shadi spends her waking hours in the forge, dreaming of rescuing her brother with the help of a man she once worshipped like a father. A crashed ship on the colony becomes her only hope to escape. But before she can steal the ship, the pilot abducts her. They may be the same species, but will he help her find her Shilah? 

Their attraction is undeniable… 
Fighting it seems inconsequential as they evade the nyx's bounty hunter and uncover a conspiracy that shines unwanted light on Shadi's past and reveals the corruption in Uri’s beloved Embassy, placing their fledgling love in danger. 

As the universe systematically falls apart, will Shadi and Uri’s newfound passion be enough to keep them alive? 

Being one of the Embassy’s glorified treasure-seekers has its perks… 
Komandan Uriah Jacobs recovers ancient artifacts in exchange for more than just decent pay; he also receives guaranteed protection from his former owners, the nyx…until an emergency landing on a too-familiar colony brings him face-to-face with his past life and something more—a surprisingly priceless treasure in the form of a human woman. 

A slave to the nyx since childhood… 
Shadi spends her waking hours in the forge, dreaming of rescuing her brother with the help of a man she once worshipped like a father. A crashed ship on the colony becomes her only hope to escape. But before she can steal the ship, the pilot abducts her. They may be the same species, but will he help her find her Shilah? 

Their attraction is undeniable… 
Fighting it seems inconsequential as they evade the nyx's bounty hunter and uncover a conspiracy that shines unwanted light on Shadi's past and reveals the corruption in Uri’s beloved Embassy, placing their fledgling love in danger. 

As the universe systematically falls apart, will Shadi and Uri’s newfound passion be enough to keep them alive? 


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