Sexy Geekery

Oh my great garbanzo, friends and internets. My summer class has started (that is to say, 20 hours a week of class, 30 hours a week of work (I’m just slicing off 5 and calling it sick time), and countless hours of homework) and I am OVERWHELMED. However, my field experience starts next week, so at the very least, I will be able to start providing you with some interesting reflections on public summer school here in Boston. Later in the summer, I’ll also be serving as a [paid!!] teaching assistant for another BPS summer school program, so brace yourselves. This blog is about to take a decidedly scholastic bent.

Till then, here’s a brief snippet to hold you over. I haven’t even had time to open my Google reader in days, but luckily, I have friends who send me links to the rad stuff that I am missing. This particular gem of an article comes from Dave, who writes over at the BARCC blog. You should check it out, and drop BARCC a donation nugget while you’re there.

Anyways, The Sexist has a great interview with awesome ladyblogger Courtney Stoker (who you can bet I’ll be checking up on in the coming days! Err, maybe “weeks”) all about being a lady geek.

I’ve alluded to my geekery before, and I’ve started and discarded about fifty billion posts on feminism and cosplay and the deep schism within me re: feminism and cosplay. I love cosplay, I love geekdom, I love D&D and comic books and videogames and hugging stormtroopers. I have costumes that are arguably “sexified” costumes.

As she says,

This is where some geek women find their acceptable place in geek communities, because even the most sexist of geek men is going to be okay with women being around as long as they’re dressed up like sex objects. Too often, women in geek cultures are only welcomed if they are decoration, sexy versions of the the things geek men love, not equal participants or fellow fans.

It stings a little because it’s true. I’ve felt that way over and over. I notice, consistently, the difference in reception I get between the variety of costumes I wear–the more skin I show, the more likely that people will be enthusiastic to see me, no matter how high quality any other costume may be. I’m consistently discouraged from doing non-sexy costumes, let alone engaging in crossplay (cosplaying a character that is of the opposite sex) without transforming it into a “femme” version.

I have a big long rant about this, and I’m sorry I don’t have the time or energy to write it up, as this is a highly nuanced issue, and my above paragraph makes it sound very black and white, and makes geek dudes sound way worse than they are.

The issue is something that Courtney mentions–can any of this be reclaiming of female sexuality and femininity, which is pretty much not allowed to exist on its own terms in scifi? I feel like the opportunity is there. Women can be sexual, and even in a “mainstream sexy” kind of way, on their own terms. It’s so hard to define so much of this, though–where are we are genuinely enjoying this, and where are we enjoying the attention? (Because yes, attention can be fun.) I find this relevant because it’s an issue I have when dating–I have often considered punching a boy in the jaw for pushing too hard for me to buy “sexy” undergarments, even though it so happens that black lacy skivvies delight me. Just, like, let me buy them on my own terms, dude. Do I feel hypocritical? Sure. Does it change the fact that one motivation (and often different shopping location) makes me feel skeezy, while the other doesn’t. Likewise, can one girl wear the same costume and feel both of those feelings? Of course. Can two girls wear the exact same costume and one be motivated by feminism and the other by self-objectification? I don’t see why not. Does this become a tangled mess of how do we define and how do we express? Oh fuck yes.

Cause part of me doesn’t give a rat’s ass how much we can discuss the woman-power of Princess Leia saving Han and then choking the shit out of Jabba, it doesn’t change the fact that wearing the metal bikini is gonna get you objectified. But… I love that woman-power side of Leia. I love the brazen courage it takes to wear that freaking bikini. But…

But but but. Even my non-overtly feminist friends seem to deal with the same but-but-buts when we talk of being girlgeeks. Sometimes it just seems easier to settle for being an object than to get driven out of fandom. Sometimes, you even internalize it.

Read the interview. Courtney Stoker is an exceptionally well-spoken lady who makes some awesome points, and I cannot wait to read more of her stuff. Check out her blog here: http://austintotamu.blogspot.com/

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06/29/2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized.

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