I have a law degree and am licensed to practice law. I’ve been published. In print. I am a 28-year-old grown-ass woman and last week I bought my first comic book. That’s right. I’ve finally decided to fully unleash my geek.
My geek streak has been buried in my personality for a long time. I’ve always been a fan of science and speculative fiction. My favorite game to play in my backyard when I was a child is Rescue the Enterprise. (Next Gen, of course. Picard forever!) Bill Nye the Science Guy was necessary after school viewing. I decorated my room with hand-drawn renderings of every single manned spaceship in U.S. history.
Yes, the geek is strong in this one.
Today is the trifecta of nerd holidays: Geek Pride Day, Towel Day and the Glorious 25th of May. It’s a day for people who like what they like with no apology, but on this day we should also be cognizant that girls continue to be dissuaded from getting involved in geek culture.
When I was in school, I was lucky enough to run around with a pretty nerdy crowd. We researched nuclear nonproliferation policies, quoted Monty Python, and read the Han Solo Trilogy. But even so, as a girl I knew there were some things I wasn’t supposed to enjoy. Like comic books. And video games. And robots. It wasn’t explicit. I just knew.
I like to think that such things have changed, but they haven’t. At least, not that much. I’m sure we all remember the first grade girl who was bullied for liking Star Wars. Nerdy girls are still considered suspicious, like we only get down with nerd culture for the attention. God forbid girls dig programming and blowing up shit! Comic books constantly give women the short shrift (but, importantly, not always). Blatant misogyny is tolerated in at least one major tech company.
It can look pretty discouraging, but I’m convinced that the tide is turning. Geek is so cool. I can think of many prominent geeks of the lady persuasion off the top of my head: Tina Fey, Marian Call and Felicia Day to name a few. Women still lag behind in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) professions, but efforts such as Girl Develop It are teaching women how to code, She’s Geeky is connecting and encouraging women to enter STEM, and blogs like The Mary Sue are making women in geekery mainstream. It’s an exciting time to be a geek.
Geek culture has a lot to offer, and it should be something that everyone can take part and feel comfortable in. We aren’t there yet, but it’s getting better every day. Let me provide the kids out there with some advice. If you feel it, don’t be afraid of your inner geek. Build your robot. Cure ovarian cancer. Read your comic. Hell, write your own! And get pissed because even though there has been a bottomless well of superhero movies these past few years, not one of them stars Wonder Woman! (What’s up, Hollywood? Get it done.)
But most of all, be loud. Let everyone know that you have arrived and you won’t quietly tolerate casual sexism. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not a “real” geek or question your sincerity. That is just a way to keep you out, but those doors won’t stay shut forever. It just takes you to HULK SMASH it down.
So say we all.
Image credit: Steve Isaacs