I love being a geek mentor. The moral of this story is, don’t get so busy that you don’t go back and check the notes on your old Tumblr posts.
A couple of my friends liked my “Freak” post—about being a geek and having pride in knowing that in spite of people never really understanding it, you’re doing good work—but you always expect your friends to like your stuff. They’re your friends.
Today I caught this in the notes of the post, from im-no-jedi:
“I literally started crying while reading this. Words cannot even describe just how grateful I am that there are people like this out in the world. Each and every single person involved in this is a true hero in my eyes, even if they’re dressed up as a villain. Thank you to everyone involved. You guys are amazing.”
And she tagged it: “my dream job now is become a member of the 501st” and “I will make this happen”
A 23-year-old redhead geek, now inspired to go out in the world and do charity geek work, because of something she saw that *I* wrote and threw out into the universe. This is geek mentoring as it should be, kids. The simple fact remains that, be it in the tech industry or geekdom or law or the 501st Legion, there just still aren’t as many girls as there are guys. It doesn’t matter why. It just is.
Girl geek hate has been a hot and highly debated topic, and it makes me crazy. To all those out there that want to slam the door shut to anyone else trying to get into the “club”, I shake my head in wonder at how regrettably short-sighted and petty their insistence on exclusivity continues to be.
If you don’t let anyone new into the club, when you and your friends die off, who will be left to carry on the standard?
Look, I got in to the 501st as Mara Jade. She is a fantastic character, incredibly dynamic, female empowerment and badassery at its finest. I have had groups of teenagers come up to me and a bunch of my friends in Stormtrooper gear with the intent of stealing pieces of my friends’ armor since the visibility out of those helmets is nigh on zero. I crossed my arms over my chest, tilted my chin down, and in my knee-length cloak, boots, shin guards, black catsuit, gunslinger-style holster, lightsaber hilt attached to my hip, merely gave them a good long stare.
They changed their minds.
Note however, the catsuit. People, makeup can do lots of things, and Spanx are my friend, but I am *not* going to be stomping around in that thing into my 50s. I’m just not. Some things will need to be left for the younger ladies as the years pass.
In business, they call this having a continuity plan. Hello, Geekdom? You might want to give this a bit of a thought. Instead of the few women that are out there digging their heels in and howling about “They don’t love comics like *I* love comics!” and running off all the pretty girls, how about mentoring them? How about teaching them about the best of what *you* love in your favorite realms? If you had to only read three graphic novels for the rest of your life, which would they be? What comic character speaks the most to your heart, and why? What story arc have you most loved in your life? What turned you into a comic fan? Have you read Sarah Kuhn’s book?
You have the option of doing like The League of Extraordinary Ladies has done and assembling the finest in female fandom. You can look at people like Terri Hodges, Consetta Parker, Andrea “ArkhamAsylumDoc”, Nicole Wakelin, Katrina Hill and Jessica Mills and so many others that say, “Hey, I love this stuff, and I would love to share what I love with you.” You want the best ever? Try the Geek Girls Book Club.
So maybe the people who got beaten up and bullied all through high school don’t want the “cool kids” to suddenly start wanting to wear a Captain America costume and thinking they understand the Super Soldier program. I get that. I was a band geek, you wouldn’t have exactly called me “socially adept” either. Two things I got from that experience, though, were: “We take care of our own”, and “If someone wants somewhere to go, we accept them”.
Is that so hard?
Oh, and when im-no-jedi saw that I followed her today, she wrote, “OMFG, I’m not worthy!” That’s just cute. Maybe she’ll watch what I do and go out and do something to make the world a better place. In any case, she will know that there’s another redhead girl out there that manages to be a fully-functioning professional, and mom, and geek. You can grow up and do all the grownup things, as a woman, and you don’t have to give up the things you love.
My work here is done.
… not that he asked for my help.
I write this fully realizing that I am Monday Morning Quarterbacking the hell out of this thing, and I admit that. It’s hard to be consistently funny and remain true to your own voice. But I’m going to take a shot here at what I *think* he was trying to say, and see how making the argument a different way could have turned out.
We’re used to actresses having to do whatever they can to make themselves more marketable—breast implants, liposuction, nose, chin, hair, teeth, skin, speech, sure. Plastic surgeons get paid a lot of money because it works.
A warning, though, to actresses (or actors, for that matter) who might be considering trying on the current popularity of “geek culture” for size, just to increase their marketability? Beware.
Late-night interviews with talk show hosts and “just happening” to get caught on Melrose in an Iron Man t-shirt might seem like a simple way to suck in a huge segment of the population that are passionate fans of comic genre movies and such, but be warned, these people know from geek. They have beautiful, whip-smart, funny women in their ranks like Bonnie Burton and Amy Ratcliffe and Jenna Busch and Katie Lucas. Sarah Kuhn. The League of Extraordinary Ladies. If you aren’t for real, the geeks will see you coming and call you out. Believe it. They are perceptive, intelligent, and very well-connected, and can blow up Twitter and Facebook and make whole worlds of trouble in very short periods of time.
The geek culture has also seen its share of people come in, use it to get hugely popular, then talk smack about “The Fanboys” later. It’s cheap and classless, and they are tired of it. My advice? If you’re looking for a quick way to up your IMDb hits, upgrade your implants. Don’t just show up at San Diego Comic-Con in a Slave Leia costume. While amusing for the moment, the eventual backlash to claiming to be a “geek” if you really *aren’t* sitting at home playing Warcraft at night will be much worse than you can imagine.
So there, as they say, is that.
The New York Times woman ranted back after all the crap she’s been taking this week for her “Game of Thrones” review. And she … didn’t apologize. And didn’t act humble or really seem to think she’d done anything wrong.
I want to teach Girl Child and Boy Child that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that when you do that, you should acknowledge the error. This means really believing in your mind that you made the mistake, not just saying the words because you think it’s what your listener wants to hear, or to make your audience not be mad at you any more. Accept responsibility, genuinely. Then ask to be forgiven.
The secret is *not* to turn the glare of the spotlight back on the wronged party and make it somehow their fault for being hurt/upset/wronged in the first place. Gently (or not-so-gently) explaining to that person why they had no right to be unhappy with you in the first place is not an apology.
Then again, when someone is concentrating so hard on the next thing that they’re going to say that they don’t hear what anyone else is saying to them? They miss things.
They miss a lot of things … like the whole point of what the entire #geekgirlnation was trying to say. The point of the #GeekGirlBookClub. The judgment that she passed with her words, whether she did it intentionally or through neglect.
Aunt Nancy said you can’t get blood from a stone, you can’t fix stupid, and she’d probably say, you can’t explain anything to anyone who just isn’t listening.
Off to read The Hobbit.
I think a lot about some of the more brutal tropes in comics…stuff we applaud in fiction we would rightly condemn in real life. Two of my favorite...
imperialgirl started following you
OMFG I AM NOT WORTHY