Last week Kid Sis discussed women she knows who were Geek Goddesses, and opined that this was not as rare as some (equally geeky) men seem to think.
I’d like to think it is more commonplace, but evidence indicates that this is not the case – or else women are less forthright about their geekiness.
My experience is that if you are involved with an interest that is notorious for the depth of its geekdom (such as film) it tends to intersect with other geeky subgroups, such as SF geeks, comics geeks, etc. Therefore if you already living in the land of the geeks you are likely to encounter many different varieties of the aforementioned species.
Outside of such geeky fiefdoms, which are small, you discover that you are very much in the minority, and if you are a woman you become a curiosity.
People forget when they are very involved in their interest, and interact with friends who are also ensnared with geeky pursuits, that the majority of people are not involved in such matters, and in fact perceive such interests as bizarre, odd, and downright perverse.
I suspect it’s different in L.A., which is a magnet for people interested in marginal activities. Outside of the Hollywood hothouse, however, geeks are thin on the ground. Which is why so many of them congregate together in online fora, blogs, communities, etc. They create virtual kingdoms of geeks, where their pastimes are dominant.
I offer an anecdote:
At a recent party a friend of mine introduced me to a pal of his in this fashion: “This is Maura. She probably knows as much about comics as you do.”
The man eyed me, up and said, “A woman, interested in comics? That’s not possible.”
My response was an expletive, laughingly delivered, which indicated that he could leave my presence immediately.
To be fair, the man was just taken aback. When he realised his friend was serious, he quickly added:
We ended up having a long discussion about various comics titles we like and read.
The one thing I’ve always liked about geeky men is that they adore to meet women who share their interests. I know a number of professional men who work in straitlaced careers whose love of all things SF is a guilty secret they don’t share with their peers. Their female companions invariably don’t understand their interests, and consider it a weird indulgence. This is a source of problems for their relationships.
Being a fanatic of a football team, or a celebrity, to the point of obsession is socially acceptable, but liking comics is considered oddball. It’s a funny world.
I grew up acutely aware I was considered strange by my family, and some of my friends, for my love of horror, fantasy, and sf in all media. A relative of mine asked me just lately if I wrote anything except that “weird stuff.” If I was looking for acceptance this would upset me. I long ago gave up on the notion of fitting in with other people’s ideas of what is acceptable.
It’s not so much that “I’m a geek and proud of it” (although it is true), but it’s a case that this is who I am, and people can either accept it or not.
I’m used to being the lone female in my local comics shop, or one of the few in the bigger stores in larger cities (and some women are there because they’re tagging along with their partners). At SF conventions I’m part of a growing minority, but it is still a male dominated interest.
My guess is that women are far more interested in genres like fantasy or horror than they like to admit. It’s just not an acceptable subject for a woman to raise if she works outside of forgiving career environments such as IT. The popular perception is that geeks are losers and nerds, and few want to be willingly associated with that label if they are worried about how others perceive them.
I watch sf/fantasy/horror films, read the same genres in novels, collect comics, and love animation, animé and manga, and I don’t hide the fact. As it happens I watch all genres of TV and film, I love history, many kinds of fiction, and documentaries.
Being a geek is not all I am, but it’s the part that most puzzles other people.
P.S. Happy Birthday to Popeye who turned 77 on the 17th of January.