Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Posts tagged 'geek girls are cool'

Can we all just stop being jerks?

I was going to blog about my boys’ birthday party, but I haven’t collaged the pictures yet. So, that’ll be tomorrow.

My facebook feed is still full of people bitter that Romney wasn’t elected, spreading memes about what a horrible person Obama is. I’m slowly unfriending the people who don’t seem to care that these memes are based on lies. I just can’t tolerate that level of anger over something that happens ever four years.

With this election, I’ve been hoping that we could realize that the problem wasn’t necessarily the candidates- it’s the parties. Both are trying to edge further and further from the center, to the point where they’re satisfied with not getting anything accomplished in Congress. We need to come towards the middle to try to resolve the issues with the economy. Pulling apart just makes room for the crazies to come out (and for every honest Republican I know- you need to kick the fringe out. Speak up and say that you believe in equality. That you won’t stand for racism. That you believe in bi-partisanship. When you say nothing, you become part of the problem).

Next up, the latest “geek girls are evil” conversation comes from Tony Harris with a rant about female cosplayers being evil attention whores who are taking advantage of good, honest nerds. I say the latest because these things pop up every month like clockwork.

What people are interested in has nothing to do with gender or appearance. So you can’t guess based on it.

And I’m sick and tired of this continued assumption of Woman as Destroyer. That somehow we are there to destroy the very core of nerddom by being there. He says he sees women rejecting nerds while demanding their attention? I see men who are confused by what messages they see in comic books. They assume that women who dress as the scantily clad characters in comic books are there to be ogled (since that’s primarily their function in comic books) and treat women as objects, not people. And shockingly, the women are upset that they aren’t being treated as human beings.

I’m frustrated by the non-zero % of men & girls stick up for the people who post these thing, implying that women were asking for it by dressing scantily and that if you can’t handle it, you shouldn’t be there. (This is also the same argument that male skeptics have used to push out prominent female skeptics who tried to shine a light on the misogyny they’ve experienced. Not to mention the argument that rapists use to try to place the blame on their victims.)

If that weren’t enough, Mommyish.com posted a non-story about Taylor Swift not living up to her own example of being a strong female by saying she wants to be a 1950s housewife and let the man lead in her life. Which is weird. While she did say she didn’t want to be a feminist in an interview, they didn’t simply point out that you can be a feminist and be a stay at home mom, or let the man be the head of the house. Being a feminist is making sure that women have the choice to be what they want to be. Instead, they judged her for not being what they think she should be given her reach and wealth. (I won’t link the story, since I’m fairly certain now that it’s click bait- since I know a lot of parenting sites love to stir the whole SAHM vs working mom argument just to get page views)

At any rate… can we just stop being jerks for a couple days? People are people. We have different interests. We have the same interests. And as long as nobody’s getting hurt, we’re cool. (And in the case of the fake geek girl issues… if you perceive some slight on all women because of one woman, then the problem is with you.)

Yes, Star Wars.

I went to drop off the Little Kidlet at school yesterday, and made the mistake of taking the route near the freeway. The freeway was backed up, and so were the side streets. So I turned around and went my other route- driving over a hill back into our neighborhood.

But I was starving by that point.

While not from yesterday, this IS the shirt I was wearing.

So I pulled in to a fast food place and placed my order. The guy took my money and looked down at my shirt. “Star Wars?” He asked it in the same sort of way you’d warily ask someone to confirm that they just said something horrible.

There were two ways that I interpreted it. Either he thought I was a poser Star Wars fan (very possible- back when I was 18, the guys at the gaming shop thought that Constance and I were too pretty to be RPG fans) or he thought Star Wars was lame.

So when he handed me my receipt, I just smiled at him and called him Sleemo. Which for the non Star Wars fans is Huttese for slime-ball. Yeah. I broke out the Huttese.

He blinked at me, completely confused. Yep, he just thought Star Wars was lame. As I drove off, I wished I could have remember how to say “I shall enjoy watching you die” in Huttese.

WHITNEY SMASH: Bad Satire Edition

Today Moviefone published their Girl’s Guide to the Avengers (which they’ve subsequently retitled). A piece which embraces every single stereotype there is about women to explain the movie.

They claim it’s satire, but there is legitimately no reason to create a satirical guide to the Avengers.

I say this as a card carrying geek. I know who the Avengers are, even though I admit that my real comic book knowledge is with the DC Universe. I’m the one who had to explain who the Avengers were to friends and family members.

But back to the piece.

As your boyfriend probably told you, “The Avengers” is hitting theaters this Friday. And you, dutiful girlfriend, are attending. But you hate action movies and you’ve never even read a comic book. (Of course, that’s not a slight against the girls who actually do read comic books — i.e. real fans, actual people with varied interests — but for this, let’s just go with the stock view of ladies, ladies!)

So here’s a particularly painful paragraph. It implies that normal women dislike action movies… a sentiment that bothered me when Dr Pepper tried it for their low calorie drink. It also implies that fans of rom-coms don’t have varied interests.

The piece goes on to introduce everyone, and even to helpfully give the idiotic woman this piece is addressing helpful advice about what not to say.

All this piece did was reinforce age old notions. Frankly, satire would have been creating the Geek Girl Guide to Introducing The Avengers to Guys Who Don’t Read Comic Books. Turn the idea inside out and make a statement that way.

Moviefone changed the title and added the clarification that it was meant to be satire. Honestly, with a wealth of well-written satire out there… this wasn’t satire. It was a piece that was probably intended to be tongue in cheek and missed every single mark. But kudos to joining the wealth of sites that apologize for upsetting people by saying the piece was supposed to be satire.

Reading it made me rage for all the obvious reasons. It’s bad enough that movie industries assume that only men enjoy action movies and comic books. It’s worse when real people write pieces that reinforce every stupid “rule” that the industry believes- that women only enjoy romantic comedies and have to be dragged to action movies to make their significant others happy. That the only take-away from a comic book movie is that the men are hot.

Amy Radcliffe (@amy_geek) wrote this excellent piece. A lot of the wonderful geek gals I follow similarly raged. (Update: GeekGirlDiva wrote a great open letter that points out that this is link bait at its’ finest)

To anyone who cares – pretty much everyone is tired of your insistence that all people fit in molds. That geeks are unwashed socially awkward men. That women only enjoy romantic comedies and believe that men are there to lavish them with gifts. People are different. Stop marketing to the sexes and market to interests..

And to any journalists out there- find out what satire is before using it as a defense.

So yes. WHITNEY SMASH.

For what it’s worth, I am not hulking out simply because it’s the Avengers. I have a tendency to do that whenever I get really mad.

Gender roles? I stomp on them.

This week, I saw two things that made me wonder how we’re raising our kids these days… and why we haven’t come further. First was an old advice column from 2002 on Dr. Phil’s website.

In the column, a woman asked for advice about her 5 year old boy who had two older sisters and preferred to play with “girl toys” and wanted to wear girl clothes. The page is making the rounds of LGBT blogs, who are rightly concerned by Dr. Phil’s attitude. While he says that it could just be a phase, and clearly isn’t an indicator that her son is gay (which by the way, the mother never seemed to have mentioned). But he tells her to push the child towards boy clothes and boy toys, to direct him from anything that might confuse him.

Again, this is from 2002. It isn’t a new post, but it’s still on his blog. If he had changed his stance, then he should have removed the post, or clarified something on it. But he didn’t.

So what was the second thing? A friend of mine was lamenting that her son was being hassled about taking ballet. You know, since that’s for girls.

Can I just say once and for all, ballet is not just for girls. If it was, you wouldn’t have a Prince to attempt to save Odette in Swan Lake, a Nutcracker Prince or a Rat King. There would be no epic pas de deux filled with lifts.

My sister was a ballet dancer, and while there were rarely any boys in her classes when she was a girl, as she got older and moved up into more advanced classes… there were men. And obviously, the company she danced with was filled with them too. And you know what? Most of them were straight.

My friend’s son reminds me of a boy who lived across the street from us in high school. He was the sweetest little boy, whose greatest love was dancing. The summer my sister and I babysat him and his little sister, was a summer filled with two things- Barney and dance parties. You could put on any CD and he’d dance, dance, dance. But he loved to watch my sister dance, and tried his best to follow along. So he started to take ballet, and actually starred as Peter in a ballet of Peter and the Wolf. His dad had an issue with it.

Just so I can have it somewhere, here’s what I say to anyone when they try to say that ballet is just for girls. Ballet isn’t just for girls. It takes a great amount of strength and skill to dance the way that male dancers do- which is why a lot of professional athletes take ballet for agility (admittedly, a lot of pros turn to pilates and yoga these days). Just look at Gene Kelly, who was well versed in all sorts of dancing, but brought in ballet to many of his films. He danced with grace, but with an athleticism and masculinity that set him apart from other dancers. (No knock to Fred Astaire who seemed to glide effortlessly, but Gene Kelly made sure you knew it took a bit of effort- and it was worth every bit of it) Then look at Patrick Swayze. He grew up at his mother’s dance studio and played a lot of tough guys in Hollywood. Including a tough guy who danced in Dirty Dancing. (Exhibit A: Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly “Moses“. Exhibit B: Donald O’Connor “Make Em Laugh” Ballet Exhibit A & B: Mikael Baryshnikov “Don Quixote” and a snippet from “White Nights“)

I get frustrated when people try to enforce gender roles. It’s deemed (mostly) acceptable if a girl is a tomboy, but weird for boys to want to do girl things. Let’s look at TheBoy and I. Yes, I am exceptionally girly. I cook, bake, sew, love make-up, jewelry and high heels. I also prefer my hair on the shorter side, really dig menswear (I even rocked a tie in the 6th grade), prefer action movies to chick flicks (though I do enjoy them), have played RPGs (the kind with dice and occasionally dungeons), love scifi, played video games (if I had more time, I still would)… oh, and I can use power tools. TheBoy? Grew up watching chick flicks and does enjoy watching them. He loves going to see plays and musicals, cooks and bakes as well, cleans… and honestly doesn’t know the difference between needle nose pliers and regular pliers.

Everywhere you seem to go on the internet, people complain about Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, who is a tomboy. She wears her hair short, dresses like a boy… and you know what? It could just be because she has two older brothers. It certainly has nothing to do with how she’s being raised, since her sister Zahara is a girly girl. And yet, you see people go on and on about how Angelina Jolie is raising her to be a lesbian… when she’s 5. (Lets not even get into the fact that you can’t make someone gay. You’re just born that way)

But that sort of attitude is everywhere. A blogger wrote about her preschooler being sneered at by mothers when he dressed as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween. Last summer, my cousin bought my boys a cold bake oven (which we couldn’t actually use the mixes, since the Little Kidlet is allergic) that was Disney Princesses oven. Purple and pink. And you know what? To those two, it didn’t matter that it was purple and pink and had all the princesses… it was just an oven. They played with it for weeks, making us little treats out of Duplos.

I hope that everyone here remembers Katie, the first grader who was bullied because she liked Star Wars and was a girl. She was told that Star Wars was for boys, and for a few weeks, legions of geek girls were out there to tell her that sci-fi wasn’t just a boy thing. When I was writing a comment on Katie’s mother’s blog about it, my oldest sat next to me and asked what I was reading. I told him the whole story. He looked at me, with the strangest look on his face. “That wasn’t nice. Don’t they know that Star Wars is cool and for everyone?” I admit, he knows I love Star Wars. So at least I know I’m teaching him that girls can like whatever they want to like.

There really aren’t many things that are girl things and boy things, at least as far as toys and past times are concerned. Can’t we just be good parents, and support our kids in what they do? So what if your son wants to learn how to bake? He might become a famous pastry chef. What if he wants to dance? Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov had to get their start somewhere. Your daughter want to be a pilot or an astronaut? Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride paved the way for other women in the skies and space.

I believe that my role as a parent is to support my child, no matter what. I’m there to keep them safe, healthy and happy. If they want to learn to use a skateboard, I’m there with the helmet, safety equipment and bandaids. If either of them want to learn how to dance, I will find them a dance studio and take them to and from class. Because that’s what you do. You support them and love them. And you teach them that there’s no shame in being themselves.

So let’s ditch the gender roles. Maybe if we do, when our kids grow up there won’t be blatant sexism and discrimination (or at least they’ll be aware of it and better prepared to deal with it than we are). That might be a bit much to hope for, but really- if we aren’t changing the way our kids see the world, how is it ever going to change?

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