I discovered a dirty word over summer. A word that’s seemingly so offensive that it’s thus far gotten me into more trouble than the time when I asked, “Mummy, what’s a cu-“ at the age of 8. The word in question? Feminist.
I’ll be honest. I’d been a closet feminist for some time before eventually joining writer Caitlin Moran’s army of strident feminists. I enjoy having the vote and “control over my vagina”. But I also know that there are other issues that need discussing: equal pay, abortion, the way society treats lesbians, how we react towards rape victims – hell, the way my fellow feminists are portrayed. We can’t leave it to Lady GaGa and her questionable sexuality to promote our views.
Of course, adding my voice to the feminist cause hasn’t been easy. When I described myself as a feminist, I succeeded in attracting every single internet troll known to the blogosphere. One troll told me to “put your bra back on and return to the kitchen”. In spite of my protests that I’d rather burn money than my underwear and that the majority of the world’s most famous chefs are male, the troll and I failed to see eye to eye. Our discussion culminated in them telling me to “wash [my] manly better-than-you feet” and me trying to work out how to prove that I wasn’t “a dumb feminist lesbo” without involving my boyfriend. There’s clearly many a battle to be fought for, and by feminists – least of all teaching men and women alike that feminism isn’t a bad thing.
However in my experience, there’s a glass ceiling that doesn’t need shattering, but does require restructuring. This particular ceiling is cross-genre, trans-dimensional, prone to the odd re-release and needs to be taken out of its mint-condition packaging to be played with: the Geekworld.
As with feminism, I was a closet geek for the majority of my teenage years due to fear of how others would react. Jocks would continue to ignore me, whilst the geek boys might timidly raise their heads from their Magic: The Gathering games. Other girls, however, were slightly more vicious and verbally abusive towards feminists and girl geeks. It took a while for me to dip a toe into the Geekverse.
But what is there for girls? Comics often feature girls swooning over a hero’s unrealistic muscles.
Strong female characters are a rarity. I still have yet to read the rebooted DC comics, but mention Wonder Woman and everyone thinks: hot pants. How she fought in a boob-tube is beyond me. I barely can walk to Cheesy Pop wearing one without it falling down – and that’s pre-vodka. The only other options are man-size T-shirts or Princess Leia’s slave costume, which is only suitable for private roleplaying. That particular “dress” or instance within the film doesn’t mesh with a feminist mind-set. I don’t even want to begin dealing with the implication of my boyfriend being Jabba the Hutt in that scenario…
The online community wasn’t entirely feminist-friendly either. World of Warcraft left me jaded after my guild refused to accept my gender on the grounds that I “could actually tank a raid without killing everyone”. Similarly, going into game stores and being patronisingly told “Dragon Age might be a bit difficult – wouldn’t you prefer something appropriate like Zumba Fitness?” is as intelligent as licking a nuclear reactor core.
Before my friends at Glasgow University Gaming Society hurl their dice at me, I realise that there are also exceptions to the cruel generalisation that all male geeks will attempt to flirt using Yoda-esque syntax upon a girl arriving in their world. By all means, there plenty of stereotypes that humanity ought to really have sorted out by now,
But stuff has to change. A friend once told me that if we girl-geeks want acknowledgement or to be seen as more than small men with boobs, we should do something about it. Complaining won’t get us a new Buffy or more women like Gail Simone in the comic industry. We need to hone our skills and get up there ourselves.
As with all types of feminism, it’s not about beating the boys at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare but about coming out of our hiding places and playing alongside them…whilst wearing a pokéball- patterned bra.