Geeks and Girls

Full disclosure, I haven’t seen the new Ghostbusters movie yet. I’m not going to judge it based on other people’s opinions, but I’ve been hearing some pretty disturbing things. Not about the movie, but about people’s reactions to the movie.

It seems like anyone who has anything bad to say about it is being labeled sexist.

Here’s my problem with this. It ties into an overlaying opinion that geek culture in general is sexist. I’ve been a geek my whole life. I came by it honestly, watching Star Trek Next Generation and X-Files with my grandma and reading copious amounts of comic books my uncle’s left in her house when they left. Early on I fell in love with X-men, watching the cartoon right along with Magic School Bus after school. I played Commander Keen, and actually had AOL. I write speculative fiction and I’m tech support at my day job. I am a geek, and I’m the mother of two geek girls. I’m not going to tell you that I haven’t had the occasional sexist moment in my life. I’ve been harassed, mansplained to, and treated as less of a geek than my male peers. Sadly, every woman has.

But it isn’t geek culture that did that to me. In fact, I’m far more likely to have a man who’s not a geek talk down to me. I’m more likely to school a man who was condescending to me about computers than one who approached me as an equal. I think it’s because they jeer to cover up their own inadequacies.

The truth of it is, it’s a great time to be a geek, but it’s always been great to be a geek girl. I’m honestly insulted by the insinuation that the geek community is sexist. Here’s why.

Fan service abounds and there is eye candy to be had by all.

I really don’t love to see a woman running around in dental floss, being a straight woman and all. But I do, sorry to tell you, like to see a guy running around without his shirt on. And there’s a lot of that in geek movies. Damn, there’s a lot, and it makes me happy. So who am I to grudge a man the sight of the girl in the dental floss?

Geeks were all about equality long before anyone else.

It’s always been either the geeks or the comedians that broke ground. The X-Men were talking about equality long before anyone else cared. Archie Comics showed the first gay wedding, with X-Men soon after. Wonder Woman was talking about gender equality since the beginning. So don’t tell us about equality. Chances are we told you already.

Let’s go way back.

For instance, let’s look at the original Star Trek and Liutenent Uhura. She was strong, smart and not mention was ever made of her gender. Except when she went all gooey over the tribbles. In fairness, they were damn cute.

We’ll also look at the first appearance og Jean Grey, in the very first X-men cartoon. The boys, Cyclops, Iceman and Beast, made fools of themselves over her. She was so ready to toss them across the room when they started getting too frisky.

Now, I do want to talk for a minute about the first two Ghostbuster movies. In particular, let’s talk about Janine Malnitz, the secretary. You know, the sassy, no nonsense lady who had a huge crush on Egon? The one who was totally ready when ghosts started appearing in the station? The one who was just as badass as the guys? You remember her? Let’s take a look at her character in the remake.

His name is Kevin Beckman, played by the amazingly hot Chris Hemsworth. Here’s the thing, Janine wasn’t hot. She certainly wasn’t brainless, ditzy or eye candy. Which is exactly how Kevin is portrayed.

Representation matters.

When I was little, raised by a mother who didn’t believe in sexual equality, I took comfort in characters like Agent Scully, Lieutenant Uhura, Jean Grey and all the rest. I wasn’t weak, I wasn’t less than a man. I was just as capable as anyone else.

I would hate to think that some little boy would watch the new Ghostbusters movie, and think that he couldn’t be as smart or a strong as a girl.


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