Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Look Into the Ludicrous World of ‘Fake Geek Girl’ Shaming

By Tali’Belle Cosplay

What is your cosplay’s name? It is Tali’Zorah Vas Normandy Nar Rayya. What is her quest? To reclaim her home world, Rannoch, and help Shepard defeat the Reapers. What is her favored weapon!? Well, what do you mean? A power based weapon or a firearm? –beat- I don’t know that..WAAAAAAHHH! Keelah…Is he coming back? No?

Well, with that trivia nut over a cliff, I’m Tali’Belle Cosplay and this article is about exactly that: The Arthurian questing amount of hoops a female geek has to jump through in order to be accepted as a geek. Can you name every single Robin? Name two Batman villainesses that aren’t Catwoman, Poison Ivy, or Harley Quinn! Ha, anyone can do that, phony, now recite the Jedi and Sith codes perfectly whilst juggling lightsabers and denouncing the Star Wars prequels and hell, even the originals, in favor of the expanded universe (only for TRUE FANS!) Can’t do that? Aww, too bad, you can’t join our boys club.

Darth Makenna - Used under CC License from Jarrah Hodge

This may sound rather silly, but it is quite common in geek culture unfortunately, so much so that even professional writers have been shown to have their heads rectally implanted when it comes to the very idea of the female geek. But really, the worst of it is that we female geeks can get in on it towards each other.

But Tali’Belle, you’re the cosplay columnist, why is this issue related to you? Well, citizen, if you are a frequent reader you may recall the tale of Jaime, our lovely Morrigan cosplayer from my bullying and harassment article. She got quite the third degree for being attractive and cosplaying as Morrigan, didn’t she? That is unfortunately all too common: Bullying in the form of a special sort of slut shaming and misogyny.

It has been suggested that this mind set basically came about because of the stereotypical Hollywood high school film tropes. Kids see these movies, think it’s normal, non-nerds bully nerds, nerds accuse non-nerds who haven’t done anything of being bullies, non-nerds fight back, it’s a vicious cycle that really only continues because it’s how kids are brought up to believe the world works.

 Unfortunately in this day and age a two income household is practically a requirement in a two parent home, and then you have single parents or homes where one parent doesn’t or can’t work, but in most homes one thing is very common: for whatever reason parents are absent or don’t have time for their kids, which leads to them letting TV raise them (I don’t include internet or video games because the tropes that cause the bullying cycle originated in teen movies and don’t really carry through in very many games.)

CC License from Malin Sjoberg
But I’m getting off target, the point is this society has led to nerd culture viewing fandoms and geekery as an escape and if people they liken to the pretty girls who ‘ignored’ or ‘mocked’ them can be part of it, then where can they go? Which also leads to female geeks getting in on the action.

There’s also the belief that if one chooses to take time and money to work on their appearance, they aren’t true to their geekdom because they’re not devoting all their time to it (actually beating the tar out of Kai Leng while wearing a green tea cleansing mask is incredibly satisfying and most skin and hair treatments are meant to sit while you do other things, including game or read or work on cosplays (though I don’t recommend that as hair dye will stain your fabric)). It’s an all or nothing mentality and rings a bit hypocritical since most of geek culture has interests outside of one set fandom.

Recently Warner Brothers has contributed to this nightmarish debacle of discrimination by actively saying they don’t WANT female fans of their super hero shows since girls don’t buy merchandise apparently. Oh really? Someone better tell my friends that girls don’t like buying merchandise; it’d save us all a lot of money on Harley Quinn trinkets or Teen Titans DVDs or Batman comics. Come on, patriarchy, I thought the stereotype was that we women did nothing BUT shop, make up your minds, boys!

Let me let you in on a little secret: Fake geek girl isn’t a thing that actually exists. Being a nerd or a geek is about enjoying something or being enthusiastic about it. People who don’t want girls (or ‘normal girls’/’preppy girls’/whatever) in their little private social club, literally the equivalent of a preschool ‘NO GURLZ ALOUD’ tree house sign, arbitrarily choose and change what does or doesn’t make someone a geek and what is and isn’t a stereotype about females. After all, how can women not buy merchandise but do nothing but shop? It’s a contradiction. How can a woman only want attention and not care about the subject matter she’s portraying when she’s taken literally hundreds of dollars (sometimes thousands) and months of time and energy to perfect a costume? Only in a world where what makes someone ‘fake’ changes arbitrarily to suit the needs of a bully. 

Diablo III Cosplayers at Igromir 2013 - CC License by Sergey Galyonkin

And yes, let’s be frank here: if you are belittling and insulting someone to push them out of your clique, you are a bully, simple at that. You are Regina George. You are the jocks in Revenge of the Nerds. You are Flash Thompson (jerk jock variation, none of the heroic interpretations), you are Nelson Nash, you are Gao the Lesser (except you aren’t voiced by Nathan Fillion and don’t know kung fu, which actually makes you worse), you are Crabbe and Goyle, Dudley Dursley, every jerkass bully who ever got their comeuppance, and you are turning the very person YOU perceive as the bully in that situation into the hero of the story.

So remember, ‘fake geek girls’, if people give you shit about being who you are and still enjoying geeky things? You aren’t fake, there’s nothing wrong with you, you are Hermione Granger, you are Katniss Everdeen, you are Commander Jane Shepard, you are Lara Croft; you are the heroine of your story and you will prevail and come out on top, just keep doing what you love and see the bullies and misogynists for what they are. In fact call them on it. Politely ask them why they think that way, normally you’ll lead them into a spluttering circle of confusion or a vicious spewing of patriarchal vitriol. Either way, you win because they look downright stupid or insane.

Tali'Belle is a fashion and costume design student with twelve years of cosplay experience. She operates Fleet and Flotilla: Dextro Couture and Salvage on Etsy. Her main cosplay is Tali'Zorah Vas Normandy and her current preferred convention is Dragon Con. You can keep up with her on DeviantArt  or Twitter. And of course, you can find her posts here on I Feel Delicious!

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