Nov 24

Of Bronies, Females and the word ‘Geek’

It’s been a bit hard to miss the backlash coming out against females who identify as geeks recently. Especially since one such example would be a Facebook tirade by veteran comic book writer Tony Harris, who alleged that all girls who cosplayed only did it not out of love for the character or costume, but to draw attention to themselves and to be seen as an object of desire. This was a particularly vile example of the barrier that still seems to exist between the words geek and female gender assignment of your choice. The fact that this outburst came from someone in the very heart of the comic book industry leaves me cold.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always known that this barrier exists. I dread meeting new people who inevitably ask “So what are you into?”. Alas, my status as feminine must be revoked, as I admit to the cardinal sin of being a ‘hardcore’ gamer and a keen roleplayer. The response is usually the same confused look, as if I was an alien species, and a quick change of topic. It does make starting new jobs that bit more interesting.

I must admit though instead of fighting feminism’s corner for girl gamers everywhere, I have grown rather weary of the flag carrying and the voracity with which the gamer grrlz (see From Barbie to Mortal Kombat, excellent FREE e-book) try to mark their territory with exclamations on various profiles being violent and isolationist in nature. I understand being tired of creepers but this outright aggressive attitude is a good way to alienate yourself from what I’ve found to be a really great community.

However, it seems that now and then a little reminder that really, gender has nothing to do with our various geeky hobbies is in order. Either way, male or female, you have a right to consume whatever media you find enjoyable. An interesting example of this would be My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. This show has an extensive young male fanbase, who on the whole are really nice people who just want to watch the show, buy some figurines and enjoy a little escapism. This show is originally targeted to little girls, but it has exploded in popularity in the 16 – 25 male market segment. I think it’s great. Sure, bronies get strange looks but what harm are they doing by consuming this media? None at all. As a matter of fact, Hasbro has enthusiastically embraced the older male fanbase and even used some fan ideas in episodes, for example Derpy Hooves.  This was originally a grey background pony who had an animation error making her eyes ‘derp’. She is a much beloved character within the community, and Hasbro began bringing her to the front, eventually confirming the name Derpy Hooves and clumsy personality the community attributed to her.

Now what is the difference between Hasbro and Tony Harris? Acceptance. Harris seems to have been embittered by the fact that his ‘Boys Club’ has been infiltrated and paints such a lovely picture of female geeks as man obsessed, shallow and devious. It’s just not true. The inclusion of females into this ‘club’ doesn’t mean that anything will, or has changed. We like the place just the way it is, thank you very much. We like our Batman gritty, our Resident Evil gory and our cosplays are on the whole well researched and brilliantly executed. (Yaya Han anyone?) Nothing changes by removing that gender specification from geek. Now, can we all just get along?


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  1. Jesse

    I entirely understand what you’re talking about here, and people apparently have yet to realize that when something becomes “cool” (as apparently geek culture has as of late) others will want to learn and become apart of said culture. However, with such a backlog of information, newcomers aren’t able to learn everything from 1985 to present; they need to start with the present and work their way backwards in time. Yet with most in the geek world, if someone is new to the knowledge then most are very abrasive and crude to those who aren’t fluid in their lingo, not being able to name each X-Men team from 1960’s to 2000 (because no true geek is a fan of the current series) and this considered “fake geeks.”

    We can’t go around chastising every person who is interested in general geekery yet doesn’t have the adolescent history of lonerism and the outcast nature that molded the majority of us into the geeks and nerds we are today. Without those people looking in from the outside with positive curiosity, then our culture will slowly die out, becoming nothing but a hollow carcass filled with Voltron figures, D&D minis, and back issues of Tank Girl.

  2. Scott

    It appears he removed the post. You can read the full comment on Buzzfeed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/donnad/comic-book-illustrator-tony-harris-hates-women-co

    Very legit points Liz.

    1. Liz

      It was actually Seonaid that wrote the post! An excellent post that really hits home the important points.

  3. Seonaid_NearlyEnoughDice

    Thanks for the alternate link, it was still up on Facebook when I wrote the article. Perhaps Mr Harris has been facing a bit of backlash for his comments…

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