The other day, I read a really interesting article: The Ragamuffin Speaks: Cosplayers: Surprisingly Not Toys.
The entire article was pretty much one long “Since certain guys can’t figure it out, let me explain, using very small words, how not to treat women.” It bothers me that such an article was even worth the trouble of writing. I guess I’m naive. Or maybe I’ve just got enough of an ego to roll my eyes and walk away from anyone – man, woman, or frog – who tries to tell me I’m not good enough to do whatever I’ve decided I want to do.
That being said, I’ve never had to deal with the real bottom-of-the-barrel of male geekdom. I’ve never been groped at a con, or harassed, or had to sever any guy’s critical parts. I’d really like to think that’s because the reports of this sort of thing are overblown, but if we’re being honest, I suspect it’s because I’ve never gone to a con by myself. I’ve always been escorted by the guy who introduced me to gaming – who can look reasonably intimidating when he wants to. Luckily I like the guy enough to still be with him a couple of decades later so . . . if it’s not broke, right? No – I take that back. It is “broke.” But The Ragamuffin dealt with that pretty extensively, so I’ll direct you to him for further details.
Except for one statement, that I can speak to fairly personally:
“I’ve witnessed the great gatekeepers of geekdom challenging their right to wear their costumes by testing their knowledge, daring them to prove their geek credentials.”
It’s not just cosplayers, or comic book fans.
Gentlemen of the Role Playing and Video Gaming Persuasions, may I have your attention please?
I get it. Social situations don’t hold a lot of pleasant memories for you. You walk into most interactions expecting to be looked down on. That’s why you got into geekery in the first place, right? Why keep chasing the popular crowd when they’re just going to reject you? Better to find something you actually think is pretty cool, than follow somebody else around doing what they dictate.
Trust me, I get it! Why do you think I, and so many other geeky women, got into role playing games or video games or comic books or SCA or whatever form our geekery takes? Same reasons, guys. We’re not stellar at the whole social interactions with normals thing either. To be honest, most of us don’t really get the point of it all. It looks kinda boring.
But here’s the thing. Ask a representative sample of long-time female geeks how we first got into our form of geekery, and most of us will tell you we had a boyfriend or a male friend who introduced us. Most of us have had guys who paved the way, who explained things and taught us how to play. And I suspect, who shielded us from the worst of the gatekeepers.
I don’t run games. I write stories, but I don’t tell them in the context of role playing games. I’ve written role playing modules, but I don’t even run my own playtests. You know why? Because I haven’t memorized every rule in every role playing book. For me, role playing has always been more about story than dice rolling. So it’s not surprising that the resident rules lawyer (every group has one) can argue me down. Every single time. And after the first few times, you get sick of dealing with it. Yeah, I get it Mr. I Can Recite Every Single Word That Fell From The Mouth of Gary Gygax. You know more about the rules than I do. Congratulations. Would you like a sticker?
But what’s the point in running games (in my case) or cosplaying, or doing whatever else we find exciting and fun and creative, if we’re going to have to submit to a courtroom-style cross-examination? We end up spending all our time defending ourselves instead of actually having fun.
And if that’s what I’ve had to deal with, in my sheltered and escorted and protected entry into geekdom, what about the girls and women who are unescorted into the old boys’ club of geekery? Some are incredibly brave and self-confident and walk in daring any guy to tell them they don’t belong. Others – and you, gentlemen, will never know how many – beautiful, creative, intelligent, interesting women walked away, told loud and clear by one more group “You’re not good enough to hang with us.”
Really guys? We’re not good enough? Next time you lament the fact that you can’t meet girls, or that women won’t give you the time of day, remember that slightly lost looking girl that wandered by the gaming store. She wanted to meet you and get involved in the game. Unfortunately, you and your buddies ignored her or glared at her and threw around terminology you knew darn well she didn’t understand (not because she’s stupid, but because it was her first time in a gaming store, so how could she be expected to know the terminology?), and she walked out. Or she never bothered to go in.
Your loss guys. She’ll be fine. She’ll find something else to do. And you’ll continue to sit around with five other guys wondering why you can’t meet girls.