As a female geek, I have sadly encountered my fair share of misogynistic comments. A year ago, Ain’t It Cool News published an article on Stan Lee’s Comikaze that featured photos of myself in costume, among other convention photos. Despite being dressed as feminist comic book icon and my personal patron saint, Wonder Woman, I was simultaneously called “succulent” and “fat” in the comments section. My personal favorite came from a commenter who wanted to bend me over the invisible jet. Unfortunately, I have just come to expect these type of comments as part of being a lady in the geek space. It’s not uncommon to encounter demeaning and threatening comments due to gender and appearance in these geek-centric areas of the internet.
Comic books, video games, anime and other typical geek pastimes are often viewed as male-dominated areas of interest. Because I am a woman, my opinions on any of these things are considered only after my gender. In most massive multiplayer online role playing games (or MMORPGs), harassment starts whenever someone reveals their gender. Melinda-Catherine Gross, who appeared on the USA Network’s “Summer Camp,” stated that in the case of joining a guild in World of Warcraft, she didn’t even disclose her gender due to the inevitable harassment.
“Eventually I stopped answering the gender question and was accepted non-biasedly to a Guild that I really liked,” Gross said. “I wasn’t lying to them in my process of being accepted, but not mentioning my gender at that point felt like lying. I hoped it would never come up.”
Most female gamers can surely understand why a woman would want to conceal her gender. It seems as if the gender of the player is even more important than their actual skill level. It raises the question: Why exactly does being a women in the geek world cause such a big fuss?
Perhaps it’s because an unfortunate amount of the games, comics and shows geeks love objectify women, or that women are viewed as separate from geek culture, or some combination of the two. Comics as a genre are often written by men for men. Women are not part of the equation.
When a female geek embraces her gender, she is labeled as an attention whore. YouTuber, model and cosplayer Cheyenne Jazz Wise recently made a video reviewing the trailer for the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot. Rather than discuss her opinions, commenters focused on her breasts.
“It was weird, because at the end of the day I like my breasts and occasionally don’t mind showing them off, but there’s something about being reduced almost entirely to one of your body parts by men you don’t know that’s really disturbing,” she said.
Often the geek space is viewed as an escape from the normal world. So I think that’s what makes the sexism in this space that much more disturbing to the women in them — even the space we use to escape has been invaded by toxic masculinity. Despite sexist comments like these, I’m not going to stop reading comics, playing games, obsessively watching Star Wars and shouting my geeky opinions from the tallest buildings while wearing a cape and looking misogyny right in its ugly face.
Frida Gurewitz is a junior English major. She can be reached at email@example.com.