“Oh…is that a Spiderman shirt? You probably don’t even like Spiderman, you just like the shirt. Have you even read the comics? You haven’t? How can you even call yourself a real fan of Spiderman?”
I’ve seen this happen time and time again from personal experience (“You play video games? You probably only play the healers because that’s what girls always like to do.”) and in the stories that have been relayed to me, whether it’s about superheroes, comic books, or video games. It’s the idea that girls who like nerdy things are faking it in order to get males’ attention. If you’re the kind of girl who cosplay, which is creating a costume identical to the ones worn by movie, book, or video game characters, you’re doing it to show off your body. If you’re playing a popular video game, it’s because you’re trying to impress a male. The list goes on and on.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Judging women for liking what are perceived to be stereotypically “male” things is unfortunately a problem that many of us face. Men aren’t the only ones waging this verbal war against the women who respect and love “geek” and gamer culture; some women have come to criticize the women who encroach on what we perceive as a predominantly male geek culture. It raises a big question of why people of all genders feel the need to criticize women who want to participate in these communities. Is geek culture unwelcoming of people who are just beginning to discover what’s great about tabletop games and anime? If so, why don’t we see the same “name five of Batman’s mortal enemies” attention lavished on males who begin to discover these things?
Then comes the issue of sexualization and suspicion of those who have more sex appeal than generally expected of a girl into geek culture. As previously mentioned, many women who participate in geek culture like to cosplay as video game or anime characters who wear clothes that are ordinarily deemed revealing or accentuate certain body parts. Although personal interests and appearance are not exclusive of each other, some people believe that it is. One such argument against women perceived as too pretty to be interested in comics, video games, and anime is that those who dress up for conventions or do photoshoots in cosplay are only doing it to soothe their own egos.
It even goes further – some women have reported experiences of sexual harassment and assault, despite convention rules that stating that this behavior is strictly forbidden. Movements like Cosplay is Not Consent have sprung up in response to those who see and treat women only as sexual objects at their hands, and along with many more, they work to create a more accepting community within the gamer, anime, and geek culture. Hopefully, the same will continue to happen with any kind of geek girl, regardless of whether they show their pride by creating costumes or just wearing a simple Spiderman shirt.