The recent and continuing foofaraw over who is a true geek and who is not shows how prone even the people who think of themselves as intelligent and enlightened can go horribly wrong in their judgment of others.
One example of this is how young women in skimpy or skintight costumes are not really geeks, but instead just out to exploit men who attend conventions.
When you apply logic to this scenario, it doesn’t hold up very well. First, you cannot know what is inside another person’s head, so you cannot know the geek status of someone else just by seeing that person. Second, how is it exploiting you, if no money, goods or services are being asked for by the young women in the scant or tight apparel?
Emporiums of the flesh-baring kind can rightly be said to exploit the people who attend because money is given in return for viewing bare skin. So far, I have not heard of anything of that sort happening at a convention. So, where is the exploitation?
I won’t argue that the attractive women don’t want attention. I think everyone wants attention, and if a woman likes wearing costumes that contain a smallish amount of material, she probably will get some attention from males who find her appealing. This is no different than life in the world outside of conventions. If a man can’t help himself from giving attention, that really is his problem. It’s not a reason for him to think he knows if someone is a geek or not.
It sounds silly put in these words, doesn’t it?
While I am an older female fan now, back in the day, I wore skin tight costumes occasionally and I did enjoy the attention I got. I don’t recall anyone questioning my status as a fan though. Women were a minority in fandom then and maybe men were just glad to see something other than people like themselves. They weren’t inclined to aggravate women and have them leave fandom, I imagine.
What is most offensive in this current “debate” is that some few men with chips on their shoulders are pulling some elitist kind of crap (yes, I said crap) to get to what end? Are they just enjoying being mean and exclusive? Are they actually so intimidated by women being a part of fandom that they want to run them out of it?
What is the motive? Why are they allowed to decide who is a geek and who is not?
Most of this centers on women who wear comic book super heroine or villainess costumes, which certainly do tend to be revealing of their physical charms. It’s being said that these fans are not real comic book fans.
Do the perpetrators of this elitist thinking believe that women have never read comics? Even back in the late ’50s, when I first read comics, I was not the only girl reading them. It was my best friend’s mother who bought the comics she and I read and they weren’t all “Archies.” My favorite was “Superman.” I especially loved the stories that focused on the Bizzaro world but that’s another story for another day.
Girls read comics way back then when women were rarely seen at fannish events. It stands to reason that now even more persons of the female persuasion would be reading them.
Nobody should be quick to judge who is a geek or not a geek. That’s the same kind of thinking as that of the people at the cool table at lunch. They decide who’s worthy and who is not. Is that a right way to think? Of course it isn’t. In their finer moments, I’m sure the people who got the current shenanigans going would be appalled to be equated with the people who most likely deemed them unfit for the in crowd at school, or in a club, or church, or whatever.
We all judge others. I do it all the time. You who are reading this most likely do it all the time. If it’s not in our DNA to do it, it is in modern culture to do it. We can rise to the best in ourselves and admit that we shouldn’t be making decisions about people’s worth based on our judgments and that we should be giving others a chance to show us who they really are.
There have been several young women who have posted quite a bit in social media about being harshly judged as exploiters of men and not true geeks. I follow @albinwonderland on Twitter who has been particularly firm but eloquent in her posts concerning the matter. If you are on Twitter, I suggest you look her up. She is a young woman who enjoys costuming, and who is a geek just like the rest of us here.
The more I think about this, the more I see it as just a modern extension of elitist thinking that has always been the negative part of fandom. We still have people who think that if you only go to science-fiction movies and watch science-fiction television, you are not a true fan (the old-time version of true geek, don’t you know). We have people who think that those who read science-fiction books are old fuddy-duddies too.
Recently, I found myself being offended by a Chris Hardwicke comedy routine I saw on Comedy Central. This guy whose show’s on BBCA, I, who am well over 30, have watched and enjoyed spoke about fans over 30 not being cool. I was so upset for a while that I thought of writing an open letter about it and posting in various social media. I even thought of blasting him here for it. Then, real life happened and his peccadillo didn’t seem all that important. He’s young. He’ll get over being ageist, if he’s lucky and gets a long life.
Ageism is a two-way street. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard someone utter a sentiment that goes basically like this; If you didn’t come up on Heinlein, Clarke and Asimov, you can’t be a true fan! That’s a fannish version of, “Get off of my lawn.” Even though I am an older fan now, I don’t agree with this thinking. Things change. Some people need to get over being upset by that.
The irony of my position is not lost on me. It is difficult to make a case sometimes without doing the very thing against which you contend. My intentions, which may well pave a right road to hell, are good. I just want everyone to get along and be respectful of others in the fannish community.
Being a geek is something that is in your mind and heart. Others may question but you know who you are. Their questions cannot hurt you. Your answers may astound and enlighten those who doubt you. So, go out there proudly and astonish your deniers. That’s a something that a true geek might do.