It’s taken me several months, but I’ve finally tackled another item on My Grand List of Geeky Goals. Beam me up, Scotty. I’ve tackled #18.
I often felt like a total noob when it came to Star Trek. It’s one of those weird things in geek culture that feels like a pre-requisite to entry. I hate to say that there are such things, because I don’t truly believe those kinds of admittance requirements should exist, BUT you are missing out on a huge cultural element of geekdom if you don’t know the language of the show.
Hell, I’m glad I watched it because I finally understand why Wil Wheaton is so famous.
But there’s more to Star Trek than young Wheaton’s fame…
Introducing our Lady Geeks of the Week: Tansy Roberts and Heidi Richardson Evans of Doctor Her, “a blog about all things Doctor Who, from a feminist perspective.” But Doctor Her is just one of these two ladies’ many respective projects.
Tansy Roberts is the author of Splashdance Silver (published when she was 20!), the Creature Court trilogy and Love and Romanpunk, among many other books. Furthermore, Tansy is one of the hosts of the Hugo-nominated science fiction podcast Galactic Suburbia, and the recently launched all-female Doctor Who podcast Verity. This lady is a whirlwind of geek chic fervor.
Heidi Richardson Evans is an artist, writer, and mom living in West Virginia “in a house made of mismatched reclaimed bricks.” When I asked Heidi to be a Lady Geek of the Week for BGC, she was fantastically over-the-moon, and put together a special treat for us: a TARDIS inspired makeup look.
Doesn’t she look amazing? I, for one, am particularly impressed, as every time I pick up vibrant eye makeup, I emerge looking like a 7-year-old who found her older sister’s eye shadow pallet from Claire’s. Yes, I speak from experience both as a 7-year-old and as a 22-year-old.
While I work on channeling the accomplishments of these ladies, you chic lady geeks out there should check out Tansy and Heidi’s interview with BGC on their love of our main man this month, Doctor Who:
Q: If you had to choose one Doctor to arrive on your doorstep and ask you to be a companion, who would you choose and why?
TR: Five, because then I could be fairly certain to get a room to myself on the TARDIS, and other companions to chat to. Though there is precedent that if I pick Eleven I can bring my partner and children too, so that would be fun.
HRE: Ten. 10. TEN! tennnn….10!!!!Ten(nant.)
I’m a NuWho fan who’s barely seen the original series. I was very taken with the show’s concept during Christopher Eccleston’s season as the Ninth Doctor, but I fell seriously in love with the character when David Tennant stepped into the role. His characterization of the powerfully complex emotions of the Doctor is heartbreaking. I’m so taken by the subtle beauty of his performance and he’s definitely “my Doctor.”
In 108 minutes, Wreck-It Ralph accomplishes something the entire video game industry has failed to achieve for more than 30 years:
Three major consoles. Hundreds of major and indie developers. Mobile and handheld gaming. Thousands of writers, programmers and artists. Millions, maybe even billions, in marketing dollars. All schooled by one movie.
I applaud the filmmakers, but I’m utterly baffled, because they made it look easy. And for so long, we have been told it’s “hard” to sell games with female characters we can look up to, care for and relate to. I think $49.1 million at the box office, which is Disney Animation’s highest opening weekend in history, tells a very different story. Listen up gamers, it’s time for a revolution.
Let’s start with Vanellope Von Schweetz and her home game, Sugar Rush.
Vanellope is funny. She’s smart. And she has confidence, despite her condition, pixlexia. She is driven and willing to fight for her rightful place in Sugar Rush, which is largely made up of racing girls - not boys. The aesthetics are a marvel: the racers’ outfits and vehicles may be sugary, but they aren’t princess-y and they aren’t racing on some simplistic puff course either. These girls know how to compete and they talk trash. They want to win - and they aren’t cheering on the sidelines for their man.
It honestly made me tear up - SPOILER ALERT - when Vanellope was transformed into a princess after winning her race, but opted to abolish her dolled up status and instead be President of Sugar Rush. Do you understand the sub-text here? Are you listening, America? Women, girls, OUR GIRLS, they don’t want to be princesses - they want to be president.
And then there’s Calhoun. An argument has been made online and elsewhere that she’s modeled after Samus Aran of Metroid. That could be true, but here’s a key difference: she’s not in hiding. You know she’s a woman. You know she’s in charge. It isn’t some big shocker at the end of the movie that Hero’s Duty has always been led by a strong, tough woman.
And - SPOILER ALERT - it was her husband who got shot, because she failed to take care of him. She put her gun away and he needed rescuing. Not the other way around.
The primary male characters, Ralph and Felix, love these women for these very reasons. They admire them, respect them and even fall for them - because they are a true representation of our modern social relationships. It’s OK for men to be sensitive. It’s OK for them to wreck things and then feel badly about it later. It’s OK for a short dude to fall in love with a taller woman. And most of all: it’s OK for men to ask women for help.
After seeing this movie, I want to play these games. And you know what? So does my boyfriend. And my brother. And my dude friends. Sugar Rush looks like a riot. Hero’s Duty may just be the very FIRST first-person shooter I have ever been interested in. And yes, I want to find an arcade right now and hand over my quarters for Ralph and Felix.
I know many haters will say, well, Ralph is the main character - and therefore sold the movie. Yeah, I agree and you’re right. But this is why the lesson here is so critically important. The gaming industry can continue to sell their games with strong men on the covers, posters and in commercials. When you play, the men can continue to be the primary characters - but I promise you - your game will be better AND more likable if you surround your male characters with women that matter.
Last, but certainly not least, I need to give the filmmakers props for the fact that girls were playing games in the Litwak arcade in equal number to boys. And EVERY kind of game. Not just the “soft” games or the games marketed to them. (Hey Nintendo, we are gamers too.)
Wreck-It Ralph was a joy to watch, but also a major wake up call for me. If we are ever going to see a video game industry with likable and respectable female archetypes, we may just need to bring in some new voices. I think Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, Jack MacBryer, John C. Reilly, Director Rich Moore, screenwriters Phil Johnston and Jessica Lee might just be a great start.
Guest post by Emma Bauer, who has been an avid reader of BGC for a while, so she’s now BGC’s official intern. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, history scholar, tea drinker, fashion devotee, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic. On twitter: @emmalynnbauer
What are the ingredients of a perfect apology? Eye contact? A promise of reform in the future? Sincerity?
I think we can agree, though, that the one thing an apology shouldn’t contain is an insult to the receiver.
In one of my classes the other day, the professor noticed a student sleeping. Understandably, the professor got frustrated, woke the student, and digressed into a conversation he had with a colleague. Apparently, the two professors have noticed a trend that only male students fall asleep in their classes. The professor then joked to our class, “it must be because the boys work harder.”
Being a fairly hardworking girl both in and out of class, my blood began to boil. Regardless of whether the professor meant his comment, it was inappropriate to say in the classroom. Would the same statement have been made regarding a religion or a race? No!
Having a class in the same department later that afternoon, I noticed the professor’s office door was open. I stepped inside, and after a bit of small talk, presented him with the fact that his comment was offensive to me. I was hoping to receive an apology and a “thanks for telling me” remark, but instead, I got a killer,
“I’m sorry you didn’t understand I was being sarcastic.”
Oh geez. That’s it. I didn’t understand. Thank you for clearing that up, professor.
As small as the situation may have been, in wake of the recent attacks on feminism, I’m glad I spoke out against something I felt was unfair. If everyone kept silent about the things that hurt them, where would we be?
Mr. Limbaugh’s apology to Sandra Fluke last week was equally frustrating:
“I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke. … In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.”
Once again, Limbaugh chooses to fault others for their response to the situation he created as opposed to an honest admittance of fault.
Why is it so difficult for people to be sincere when apologizing? Or admit that they are wrong?
Perhaps the best we can do is to take a breath or two, realize the faults in my professor and Mr. Limbaugh, learn from their mistakes, and carry on.
It seems that there is a growing population of politicians and pundits in a certain age range, class and political group who are totally mystified by the women of America. While this isn’t normally something I’d discuss here, it feels appropriate at the moment to dwell on the things that cause me high blood pressure.
So now you’re my therapist, dear reader. Group therapy, perhaps? I’ll try and make it less painful with an occasional photo break from my instragr.am account. (p.s. let’s follow each other!)
“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.” - Rush Limbaugh
Such a misuse of free speech should be insulting to every women he has ever married. (He’s on his fourth wife.)
I don’t believe in stopping people like Rush and the like from speaking their mind, but I do believe that people who have the audacity to speak this way should be prepared to hear the wrath of the populations and the people they direct their vile towards.
You embarrass your mother, Rush, with these statements. You make your wife look like a fool. Do you realize it?
What’s worse is that you’re the equivalent of a 19th century Internet troll.
Meanwhile, there are individuals who are running for President who employ handlers to prevent such statements, but who think it.
“I think it’s harmful to women. I think it’s harmful to our society to have a society that says that sex outside of marriage is something that should be encouraged or tolerated …, particularly among the young and it has I think we’ve seen very, very harmful long-term consequences to the society. Birth control to me enables that and I don’t think it’s a healthy thing for our country.” - Rick Santorum
You know what I think is harmful to society, Mr. Santorum? You. Your delusions of grandeur and your presumptions about what is safe for women.
Here’s something beautiful. Flowers. Look at that asexual life force for a moment…
I’m not married. I live with my partner. I own a home. I pay taxes. I contribute to our economy. I decide what’s safe for me to do and not do. I pay my health insurance premiums each month and the co-pay on my oral birth control.
Long ago, I decided having sex with another consenting adult was something I wanted to do. And I did it responsibly. I didn’t leave it up to my priest or my politicians. I made that decision all on my own.
And you know why? So I don’t have to face the consequences of raising a child I can’t support. Or worse yet, face the idea of having an abortion.
What’s strange is that I’m not even surprised.
I just wonder how much longer I have to wait for God to smite these assholes.
A week and a half ago, I posted a worthy read about sexism in geek culture, which has received quite a bit of attention on both sides of the issue. Now, here I sit utterly disappointed in the human race after watching the Gamer Girl Manifesto. The video is now in the 6-digit views range, but despite the fact that the message is getting out, many of those receiving it are proving that sexism in geek culture is more real than ever.
Look at that scoring for starters: It’s predominently thumbs down. What could possibly be so offensive that this gets a larger percentage of thumbs down ratings than divisive political commentary? Or videos of Nickelback lyrics scrolling by?
Why is the message of: “Online we’re all on the same team” is so difficult to understand and accept. All you have to do is take a look at the comments to see just how out of touch the vast majority of the viewers have been. This genius had to go so far as to suggest that humility is the issue at heart.
And don’t forget ladies: if you aren’t “attractive” by some random assholes definition, then you shouldn’t even be speaking.
I wish that these comments were few and far between. However, comments like these are scattered throughout and are a sure way to dig yourself in a deep, dark depressing hole.
If you don’t think there is sexism in geek culture: take a look around. It’s not just this video, it’s on the message boards, it’s on Reddit, it’s in the comments section on TechCrunch and every other damn tech blog. It’s online when women are gaming and it’s in comic book stores. And if a woman says anything about it, we should all point out how unattractive they should feel.
I have a proposal: a new hierarchy of nerds who actually embody the lives that we have found refuge in. Their cause: teaching other nerds why their ignorance to these issues and acceptance of it harms us all.
The protective feelings that we have for our beloved characters, games, books, blogs, etc. should apply to one another. It’s that simple.