I've been an active internet-lurker since I was 11, and I've seen things. Like, you know. Internet-things. And obviously I'm still here because I'm still here after 10 years.
One of the things that's really caught my attention, however, is the supposed existence of the "fake-geek-girl." For those of you who don't know or for those who have only gotten a kind of vague description, a "fake-geek-girl" is a girl who pretends to like certain things such as comics, science fiction, or video games and they do so for male attention. When a "fake-geek-girl" is a caught, most of the time some guy is going to try and tear her down and tell her that she's not a real geek or nerd because she's only doing it for attention.
As a girl who goes to cons pretty frequently, cosplays, and likes comic books and other types of series, I wanted to say something that might be relevant to the whole "fake-geek-girl" thing. What I have to say might not be special or anything, but I hope it puts a little bit of perspective into what things have been like for me, and how I became a geek.
As a kid, I was a huge fan of Digimon, Power Rangers, Sailor Moon, Pokemon, and Dragon-Ball. When I was six, the boys on my bus picked on me until they found out that I watched Dragon-Ball and Digimon. Then afterwards, I was suddenly their friend and we all got along fine.
When I was eight, my dad took me to see the first movie of the New Star Wars Trilogy. Obviously, the New Trilogy pales in comparison to the Old Trilogy, but I was eight and it's all I had needed to get me hooked. My dad introduced me to the rest of the films and I fell in love with the series. The same year I was introduced to Star Wars, I got a Queen Padmé Amidala shirt for Christmas. I was so happy and excited with the shirt that I wore that shirt like crazy and I wouldn't take it off. I only stopped wearing it in fifth grade because it was starting to smell and my mom had to throw it out.
Fast-forward to middle school when I was twelve and I became interested in manga and anime. After I was introduced to that, I started to watch Teen Titans which were based off of comics. So, since I lived three blocks away from a comic book store, I decided to walk over to the shop and buy some Teen Titans comics. After a few visits, one of the guys who worked there noticed what I had been reading, and he asked me if I knew that there were more series. From there, he introduced me to X-Men, Hellboy, and other series that I began to become a fan of.
As I got into high school, it was my passion and my drive to become either a comic book artist or writer. I was a freak with really nerdy and freaky friends, but everyone on my campus knew ME as the weird girl who wanted to become a "comic-book-person-thing." When I was caught drawing a comic in my British Literature class my senior year, my professor held up my work and declared it to be what art careers were made of.
After I graduated, I was accepted into my dream-school of Savannah College of Art and Design. In my admittance letter, I cited that it was my dream to be a comic book artist and that I wanted to go to SCAD so I could follow my dream.
Sadly, I couldn't go due to financial reasons, but I wasn't completely at a loss. Soon-after, I was published in an all-girls anthology called "Sugar Ninjas." This book was compiled by a SCAD sequential arts professor who noticed that girls faced discrimination in the comics industry, and he wanted to showcase the artistic and writing talents that women had to offer. He was one of the guys who told me that I was talented enough to become a writer and that he really wanted to see me succeed in the writing world.
During these times, I had always been going to conventions and cosplaying. I've enjoyed the company of other comic book fanatics, cosplayers, and nerds at these events. A good percentage of my friends, both males and females, can in some ways consider themselves nerds, or at least they have interests that can be classified as nerdy things.
If none of these instances really seem special to you or you don't understand why I'm bringing them up, I can tell you why:
While I've been pursuing my own interests for my own enjoyment, I've been encouraged by mostly men who have guided me. The kids in my class became my friends after they found out about my love of Digimon and Dragon-Ball, my dad got me hooked on Star Wars, and it was the guys who were old enough to be my older brother that introduced me to so many comic book series. Finally, it was the publisher of Sugar Ninjas who told me that I was talented enough to become a comic book writer and that I could go forth and succeed.
When I see discrimination against women in the geek community, it makes me extremely disappointed. A guy harasses a girl because of her interests and tells her to stop watching or reading a certain series because she's "not really a geek." A store employee belittles a girl when she wants to buy a video game or comic book. A comic book publisher won't hire on a female writer or artist because she's not a guy. I hear of these stories and I never know what to say because I just get so sad. I've never had anyone talk down to me because of my interests. or dreams because I was a girl, and I hope and pray that no one ever will.
I understand that my circumstances of growing up might be different because of the fact that GUYS in the geek culture told me that I should follow what I love. These were the same people that told me I was good enough to follow my dream of becoming a writer. At 21, I still get a lot of genuine validation and encouragement from a lot of people regardless of their gender, but it's not the same elsewhere.
I'm telling my story because I don't think my story should be so different from that of other girls. I want to be able to see other people be encouraged to follow what they love and enjoy themselves in life.
I dream of a geek culture where everyone is welcome regardless of their gender, because we can all see that we can geek out together over what we love. It's a dream, yes, but I'd like to see it become a dream come true… And I hope you join me.