I misunderstood what was going on when I first heard about the so-called “fake geek girl” claims. I thought it was male high tech nerds accusing women attending tech conferences and SF cons of faking their knowledge of cyber matters. Of course, I also thought it was nonsense propelled by the fear of some men in the tech world that women were getting girl cooties on their reality.
But after reading Seanan McGuire’s piece on assholes checking geek cred at ComicCon, I realized that whole thing was some guys claiming the right to decide whether women were sufficiently knowledgeable to be considered fans.
A cred check for fandom? Are you kidding me?
If anyone ever tries to cred check my geekiness at a con, here’s the look he’s gonna get:
So first of all, who died and made these guys arbiters of all things fannish? What makes the memorization of trivia about a book or comic or movie or other media the criteria for a true fan? How can there be some kind of test on whether you like something enough to be a member of the club?
And, more importantly, why should anyone care what these self-appointed cred-checkers think? Especially since this is obviously just the latest way to insult women who go to science fiction conventions. Even though women have been an active part of the SF/F culture for a long time, a few guys seem to still be looking for ways to declare some parts of it a boys’ club.
It’s time for them to get over it.
I’ve spent a good chunk of my life pushing my way into segments of the world that were labeled “Men Only.” I went to law school when few women did. I’ve studied martial arts for over 30 years. I’ve been patted on the head and told I didn’t belong. I kept going back anyway.
Back when I studied karate, one of the guys asked me and my friend Sue why we trained. And we said, “Why do you train?” Because our reasons for being there were the same as his: martial arts training is an excellent form of self development. (People do take up martial arts for self defense or because they want to be “tough,” but no one stays in it for more than a year or two without starting to do it for more philosophical reasons.)
News flash for the cred checkers of the world: Women do things that interest them for pretty much the same reasons men do. We’re human beings. We get interested in things.
I’m a fan of many things, some of which clearly qualify on the geek-o-meter. I re-read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy every semester during law school finals (I am not making this up). I can quote from both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly at will. (Nobody can make television like Joss Whedon, and his movies are pretty damn good, too.) I’m pretty good at Doctor Who, though best on the Tom Baker years.
I’m also a huge fan of the Flatlanders, both individually and together. Oh, wait a minute. That’s Texas music geekery. Not SF.
But I reserve my strongest fandom for feminist science fiction — the classics from the 1970s, the older stories that managed to get published, the Tiptree winners. Not just science fiction by women authors, but science fiction that gets at the heart of gender and the great divide. Joanna Russ. Suzy Charnas. Vonda N. McIntyre. Gwyneth Jones. L. Timmel Duchamp. And, of course, James Tiptree Jr. Plus quite a few other people (and I’m deliberately not listing Ursula K. Le Guin because she’s the one women SF writer who has addressed issues of gender that everyone has heard of and even read).
What’s that you say? Feminist science fiction doesn’t count?
Like hell it doesn’t.
Listen up, all you self-appointed guardians of geekery: Women aren’t just coming, they’re here. And they’re getting girl cooties all over your stuff. They’re even changing it. And you can’t do a damn thing to stop it no matter how many women you insult.
We’ve got a cred check for you: What did Robert Silverberg say about James Tiptree? Explain Pamela Zoline’s story “The Heat Death of the Universe.” Who is in the Secret Feminist Cabal?
Don’t know the answer to that last one? Maybe you better find out. It wouldn’t be wise to cred check anyone from the Secret Feminist Cabal.