In one way or another, I found myself in the company of a bunch of fanboys this past weekend. At first, I was thrilled. What new games would I play? (Super Mario Strikers) What comics would I be able to pick up and read for free on the sly? (JLA #0)
And at first, it was good. I felt accepted. I held my own in Strikers even though it was my first time playing. I got to talk about Catwoman and Chris Bachelo. Nerd talk uninhibited.
But then, unexpectedly, it started. Faggot. Pussy this, pussy that. Vagina this, slut that. Dumbfounded and silent, I held my tongue. Sat rigidly on the couch, smoothed out my skirt, buried my face in a comic.
It was naive of me not to expect this. And I thought that I’d be prepared for this situation, where talk turns sour and everything becomes an insult. The amount of sexism and homophobia was staggering. I thought I’d be able to make some quick witty comebacks (filled with insightful knowledge) that would enlighten or at least make them shut up. After all the theory I’ve studied. Everything I’ve written on this blog, everything I’ve read on other’s blogs. You’d think I’d be able to come up with something. The only time that I was able to say anything was when one of the guys asked if I was looking at my own boobs. I shot him down so quickly and defensively that I surprised myself. I shocked him, and I’m sure the group was happy when I left—I was the bitch who ruined all the fun.
I first I felt exasperated. Do these guys represent the majority of the fan community that I want to be a part of? I mean, I desperately want to be part of some sort of group of people who share the same interests as I. But can that even occur because I’m a woman? At Wizard World I’ll be handing out flyers for girl-wonder.org as a way to be proactive, as an attempt to further create a space for women in geekdom. Yet, after my intensive nerd run-in, passing out flyers doesn’t seem to be good enough. Writing in this blog doesn’t seem to be good enough.
As a few days have now passed and my hopelessness has ceded a bit. I’ve been thinking and thinking about the whole situation and managed to come up with this: the guys I was around were taking part in a form of alternative masculinity. They’ve suffered the consequences of not being traditionally masculine: they’re not rich, they don’t have tight bodies or physical prowess. A way for them to prove their masculinity is through wins and game scores, and extensive comic book knowledge. Another way is verbal; by using sexist and homophobic slurs, masculinity can be proved by effeminizing their peers.
I’m not interested in games, comics, anime, what have you, in order to prove anything. My interest is that I simply like them. I think the guys I came in contact with initially started out the same way, but found that as they grew older and had their masculinity questioned, they had to use their hobbies as a way to prove themselves. I, as a geek girl, stand in direct opposition to that, which is why I failed, after the first couple of hours, to find a common ground with them.