In response to yet another piece about women who pretend to be geeks for attention, +Hannah Grimm makes an incisive point: "If you're a guy and you go to comic-con, no one asks you to prove your credibility. You are assumed to be a geek by the mere virtue of your presence: that's your privilege as a male in a male-dominated culture. Automatic acceptance is something you take for granted. A woman who shows up in her lovingly hand-crafted Starfleet uniform or dressed as female Ironman is expected to prove her cred, because she's a woman."

There is nothing new about +Joe Peacock's commentary. The title of "poser" has always been thrown around within subcultures and communities; surely, in-group bias creates strong bonds among those in the in-group. The problem in the geek community is that this judgment is almost always leveled specifically against women and frequently involves threats and harassment. 

Even Peacock, who doubtlessly tried to be careful voicing his views, betrays geek culture's rampant misogyny. Look at his example of the guy who buys comic books just to create scarcity and drive a profit (which was clearly thrown in to ascertain readers that this is not an "attack on women"). This type of guy doesn't contribute to the community, Peacock says, adding that he hates poachers. The women on the other hand? They're "gross." They want "attention." They have "hollow egos." "Don't be shocked when they send you XBox Live messages with ASCII penises," he says to them. He doesn't say it outright, but you know that he thinks that they deserve it. And you know that he knows that it's not just little ASCII penises, either. He linked the site himself, where one of the top posts threatened "I'm going to shoot you in the cunt." 

Nobody deserves harassment, violence or abuse. Unfortunately, Peacock's line of thinking feeds the problem instead of doing anything to fight it (making his assertions that women in the community lead to better things sound rather, well, hollow). If you are a woman, you might be given a chance to prove yourself in this community. Since there is no standard definition of what a "geek" is and it will vary from one judge to the next anyway, chances of failing are high (cake and grief counseling will be available after the conclusion of the test!).

If you somehow manage to succeed, you'll be tested again and again by anyone who encounters you until you manage to establish yourself like, say, Peacock's own example, Felicia Day. Even then, you'll be questioned -- as he himself noted. It's easy to explain it away as shoddy journalism. It's not shoddy journalism. It's predominant ideology. 

As a woman, your whole existence within the community will be nothing but a series of tests -- if you're lucky. If you aren't lucky, you'll be harassed and abused and those within the culture will tacitly agree that you deserve it. 

This is precisely why I correct anyone who calls me a geek. "Geek" was never as gross or offensive to me growing up as it is now. This is precisely why I will never attend any of these conferences no matter how much I like the panels and products and wish I could interact with their creators. This is why I rarely talk about the games, fantasy books, anime and graphic novels I love outside of the safe confines of self-selected groups of people. This is why my usernames on Steam and Battlenet are gender-ambiguous. Why I never post on gaming forums or join game network groups. Have you ever tried to count the number of groups that have offensive insults toward women as titles on gaming networks?  Don't. There are not enough FPS in the world to help you release all the rage.

Privilege is not absolute, so I can't say Peacock has never experienced the brutality of outright rejection at the hands of a community he recognizes as true to him in a way he's never recognized any other. As a geek, I imagine he probably has experienced rejection by non-geek subgroups. In this case, however, he's very privileged. Here, he will never have to prove himself constantly. Here, he will never be threatened with rape or violence because he has the audacity to do or mention something he loves. Good for him. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. I just wish he set a better example.

What's a better example? Do what you do and love what you love and surround yourself with people you relate to. If there are posers standing around, teach them something cool. Who knows, they just might turn out to be die-hards with some guidance. They might have the skill set to offer something amazing to the community. We're not born geeks. If my father had been any other man, would I have watched Akira when I was six? Grown up on Galaxy 999 the way my peers were growing up with Sesame Street? Snowball's chance in hell.

Stop dividing and perpetuating the abuse and focus on sharing what you love.

Sincerely,
Someone who has no cred and doesn't want any
Not Cool: Comparing all women who don't meet your standards to booth babes

+Joe Peacock Wrote a piece recently in which he articulates a very common refrain in male geek culture: women who wear batman shirts or participate in geek culture are only doing it for attention.  His piece is filled with platitudes in the hopes of deflecting feminist rage, but while he pays lip service to female geek idols like Felicia Day, he also out of hand dismisses a huge swath of female geekdom as frauds, and derides them as "booth babes" who couldn't get enough attention among "real" men and so had to put themselves on display for the drooling virgin geeks to leer at (there's a whole other piece to be written in how his piece derides male geeks as somehow having lower standards than other men, which bothers me as well).  Here's the thing though, Joe.  If you're a guy and you go to comic-con, no one asks you to prove your credibility.  You are assumed to be a geek by the mere virtue of your presence: that's your privilege as a male in a male-dominated culture.  Automatic acceptance is something you take for granted.  A woman who shows up in her lovingly hand-crafted Starfleet uniform or dressed as female Ironman is expected to prove her cred, because she's a woman.  She must just be in it for the attention.

There's this thing that happens when you're a woman, where people constantly treat you as if your sole purpose in life were to please men.  That's why it's considered an insult to call a woman a dike--she's failed at her sole purpose!  It's why websites like "fat, ugly, or slutty" exist[1].  When you treat women like their only purpose is to serve men, you objectify us.  You treat us as less than people.  It's clear in your article that you are trying very hard not to sound like a misogynist jerk, but you miss the mark.  Your article plays into the preconceived narrative of women living and existing only to please men.  That's insulting, and it's not okay.  

[1]http://fatuglyorslutty.com/
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