Monday, November 19, 2012

No Geek Needs To Justify Their Fandom

Let's get this straight right from the beginning. No one has the right to tell someone else they aren't a true fan/geek/nerd because of X. That is some straight-up bullshit and I'm sick and tired of seeing it splashed all over the Internet.

I'm going to assume everyone reading this knows about the recent comments Tony Harris made about girls in cosplay at conventions. I'm not going to link or repeat his comments because, quite frankly, they are moronic and sexist. I mean, really, complaining about people having fun wearing a costume? What crawled up Tony Harris' butt and took over? (For an interesting theory on this please consult the following link - )

I've now had the pleasure of attending a few cons, including a day at FanExpo in Toronto. At almost every single one I've had the pleasure to make the acquaintance of female geeks, some in cosplay and some not. Every single one of these women has been intelligent, engaging, interesting, and a pleasure to be around. In short, they were beautiful in more than just the physical sense. (If you're one of the women I've met at a con and you're reading this then yes, I am talking about you.)

I hate to think what my life would be like if I held Mr. Harris' attitude. I remember my teen years when I was extremely shy and alone. I did not trust anyone, least of all the pretty girls. A large part of that was fear at being teased and laughed at because I was perpetually the outsider. Being a geek only made it worse, because when I was growing up being a geek was still far from cool. Thankfully, through a lot of mental anguish and honest self-assessment I've grown past these insecurities and understand that the pretty girls are just people with different plumbing, and that has made all the difference.

Should I be jealous of people growing up today, when just about anyone can watch a couple episodes of Dr. Who and claim they are a nerd, or who play one game of Dungeons and Dragons and say they're a gamer? Hell no! There's no declared point where someone becomes a nerd or geek. I may jokingly say, “Nah, your not a nerd until X,” but that's more because I want to encourage them to explore our great nerd/geek subculture more., and because I have an odd sense of humour.

Also, should I be angry/scared/upset over casual fans coming to conventions in cosplay, especially if they are attractive, female, and wearing something provocative? Uh, no. Nope. Negative. Niet. NEIN! And so on. These women went to all the effort of either making or buying the elements needed to put together said costume and have the confidence to wear it in public. My response should be to appreciate not just the fact that they look good in it but all the hard work and/or money that went into constructing said costume. And so should you.

Guys, instead of being upset that these beautiful women are “invading” what you consider your space, go over to them and say, “That is an amazing costume.” Now, I shouldn't have to say this but I will anyways, say this while looking into their eyes rather than other parts of their anatomy, no matter how pleasing to look at said anatomy may be. Leering is never a good thing. Most women don't like it, and even if they do it makes you look like a creeper to everyone else.

No, give an honest compliment and unless a conversation naturally springs up, such as you ask her why she chose that character and then get into an engaging discussion about comics or whatever, then politely walk away. This is for two reasons. First, hanging around a half-naked woman you're not talking can be seen as creepy. Second, she may not be in the mood to talk or have something on her mind. Either way, don't hang around for no good reason. Just because this particular girl wasn't interested in talking to you doesn't mean all the girls aren't interested, but if you give everyone the creeper vibe by hanging around or giving unwanted attention then you may make it so no one, male or female, wants to talk to you.

Keep in mind, no one, male or female, owes you anything. It's great that you share the same interest, but that's all that you do. A woman wearing a provocative costume is not wearing an invitation for your attention, the same as a guy in a superhero t-shirt may just like the way it looks and doesn't need or want to discuss comics for hours on end. Harassing anyone is not cool, no matter the circumstances.

Don't be afraid or angry about anyone new deciding to join geek fandom. Welcome them in politely and get to know them. Share what you're passionate about with them but not all at once. Give them time to acclimate and what you'll find that you've gained a new friend and are better for it.

Now some of you may be crying out from your poor black hearts, “What about the fake geek girls!?!” Ummm, okay, how do we determine they're fake? “Oh, you know, the ones that dress up all skanky in order to get attention from us.” Yeah, for various reasons this isn't a problem.

First, don't assume that just because someone is dressed provocatively, like what you would consider the stereotypical “booth-babe” that they don't know anything at all about who or what they're dressed as. They may in fact know more than you do and could school you on a few things. Instead of getting defensive and angry about it, ask questions. Learn something. Just because someone, especially a, gasp, girl, knows more about something than you doesn't make you less of a man/geek. A true man accepts his faults and ignorance and strives to be better.

Second, if in fact someone is dressed up in order to garner attention the solution is not to shout insults at them. Besides, how do you know that's their intent? Look, this is a really complicated issue. Some people do dress in order to garner attention, some dress because they love the character and see it as a way to honour them, some dress that way because damn they look good. (I'm still looking for the cosplay that does that for me.) If you think they are dressing to draw attention/make the geeks all hot and bothered for nefarious reasons, the solution is for you to ignore them. It's better for everyone all around. While you're over there pointedly ignoring them I'll be the one having a pleasant conversation with the lovely lady dressed head to toe in steampunk glory. See! Win-win all around.

Or, you know, you could give up on the whole idea of “fake geek girls”, or better yet dropping both “fake” and “girls” and realize, as I've been saying all along, they're people too. You'd be amazed at how things get better for you when you stop acting like a judgemental ass and have real conversations with people, when you stop seeing a woman in a sexy costume as an object to be consumed but as a person brave enough to expose not only their skin but themselves to ridicule and objectification to do something they truly love.

In the end, the rule is, as always, don't be a dick even though you may have one.


  1. I just don't get what the big fuss is. There is always someone who is more and less of a X than you are; who cares!

    It's almost like geekdom doesn't want new blood. It's like they want to see their local comic stores close, gaming companies go bankrupt, and never see another SF show on TV again. No? Then keep encouraging people to get into this stuff, not bash them because they've only been into it for 6 months...or only into a specific part of it.

    I like table top games. I like video games. I like D&D. I like books. I like movies. I don't have a lot of time for these things, and I didn't spend my teens doing most of those things because I grew up in a religious home and wasn't allowed. Does that mean I get to hand in my geek card, or can I keep it? I'd rather keep it. I enjoy supporting my local comic and gaming stores, while finding new hobbies and adventures.

    1. Exactly! We should be celebrating new people and welcoming them in, not trying to out-geek them.

      I think a lot of it is due to fear. Fear of having that one thing these people think is special about them, their "hard-won" fandom taken away or cheapened. Truth is, the only one who can take that away from them is themselves.