So, today in Geeks Being Whiny Arseholes And Then The Internet Exploded, some dude who apparently draws comics went on a semiliterate facebook rant about girls who dress up in comic-book-character costumes while not being sufficiently well-versed in their minutae and also being insufficiently hot for Semiliterate Comic Dude's tastes (I am assuming that, whoever the hell this dude is, he of course looks just like Johnny Depp or something; fugly fatass dudes NEVER have bad attitudes about women daring to only be like two or three times as hot as they are instead of ten). John Scalzi gives him the smackdown because John Scalzi is teh awesomesauce like that. Some dude called Joe the Peacock, who wrote a similar whiny-ass rant pretending to read the minds of women who dared to wear costumes in his presence without submitting to him personally their twenty-page dissertations on the history and social significance of their costume of choice, is sort of starting to think about maybe considering some of the things that women have to say about this subject, in light of the huge volume of things women have said to him about this subject since he posted his whine. Of course, in true Manly-Man style, the enormous volume of things women have said to him on the subject thus far only constitute getting his attention; he's certainly not going to go back and read any of it to get an understanding of our views on the subject--now that he's decided to listen, he wants us to all tell him the stuff we've been saying for months and years again.
Now, I do not usually comment much on these affairs, generally having an attitude all like "If I felt like painstakingly explaining all this shit to random assholes, I would go to cons, since apparently that is what people do there." (Full disclosure: I do not go to cons. I go to RenFaires, because nobody has a stick up their arse about authenticity at those, but cons sound like a poor life choice.) But this particular charge of "dressing up like comics characters you don't know all that much about and having to Google for reference pics" struck a nerve. Because, my friends, I have a terrible, terrible confession to make:
I once dressed up as a comic book character that I didn't have a lot of knowledge of.
Technically, it was a graphic novel character, but close enough. Anyway, here's the story:
My freshman year in college, I was introduced by some lovely friends to Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. I read the whole thing pretty much as soon as I could find people to borrow the issues from, because graphic novels are not cheap, but I am. I enjoyed it lots an' lots. I particularly loved Death, the wacky, slightly manic Goth girl with the big ankh necklace who was, y'know, Death. Then I gave the comics back to their rightful owners. Then I read a bunch of other Neil Gaiman books because Neil Gaiman is a god of wacky Gothic nerdy fairy-tale awesomeness. Then I read more stuff because people pile book recommendations on me like they think it's their job and I read them like I think it's mine. I did not reread Sandman because I rarely have time to reread shit anymore, and anyway if I did I wanted to buy my own copies because they are the prettiest, but I consistently find it hard to drop twenty dollars on a single issue of a graphic novel when I can buy a thousand-page mass market paperback for eight. (PS IT IS MY BIRTHDAY SOON, SOMEONE BUY ME ALL THE SANDMAN BOOKS SO I DON'T HAVE TO DO IT MYSELF KTHNX).
My senior year in college, we held, as we always did, a Masquerade Ball. This year's theme was, roughly, fairy tales and superheroes. As SPOC's Lord of the Dance (or Lady of the Dance, or something), it was largely my responsibility to throw this giant geek party. I also needed a costume.
I went as Death.
I could, theoretically, have gone as a character I knew inside and out and could talk about all day, but I didn't arse myself to. I could have gone as a character from the Tatterhood fairy tale books I grew up reading over and over and over again, and nobody would have known who I was. I could have gone as a Tamora Pierce character, and nobody would have known who I was. I could have gone as a character from Harry Potter, and at least people might have known who I was, but it'd be weird and lonely not having any other HP characters with me. I could have gone as Princess Cimorene from Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles like I did for Halloween when I was eight, and nobody knew who the fuck I was then either, and it did not make me feel like a super elite and high-powered and welcomed member of the nerd community, it made me a sad lonely alienated-feeling nerdling. (At the age of eight. Which is young. Which is kind of why I am suspicious of dudes whose sad-lonely-ostracized nerdness is all tied up in puberty-aged issues of girls not liking them sexualfully in high school; I always think, why so late? Were you not a sad ostracized nerd the first fourteen years of your life? What the fuck were you doing in elementary school? Were you the dudes who made fun of me for reading under my desk in first grade?)
But the people I lived with--they wanted to go as the Endless. In a group. So I would not be alone and people would know who I was (Sandman is, after all, fairly popular). I am pretty much a Goth so I already had most of the costume--I just needed the ankh necklace and a bottle of black hairspray dye. And this was great, because I didn't have that much time to spend on my costume anyway, because I had a lot of work to do to throw this nerd party in the first place. And I was totally intending to reread the series before the Ball, but I didn't, because I was busy coordinating an entire Masquerade Ball and getting nerds to throw a dance is like herding cats. Into a dog kennel. And I remembered just enough about Death to remember that she was totally fucking awesome, so I wanted to go as her.
So that is how I ended up costumed as Death while being all "Yeah, I only read Sandman like once, three years ago; I don't remember it all that well. I should probably read it again."
Does that make me Not A Real Nerd? I'm sure it looked pretty terrible to anyone who tried to talk to me about Sandman specifically. I liked Sandman, and really really do need to read it again sometime, but I am clearly not a big Sandman geek. But am I A Fake Geek Girl? Am I a real geek for spending parts of high school teaching myself Elvish, or am I a big fakey faker for accepting a position on the executive board of the gaming club (that numerous people were BEGGING me to take) even though I don't play video games? Am I a real geeky geek for spending most of my childhood reading hundreds and thousands of pages of fantasy novels and fantasy novels and more fantasy novels, or am I a big fat poseur for never watching Star Trek? Am I a supar elite queen of nerdy intellectual smartness for having a WISC score in, if I recall correctly, the 130s, and a math SAT score higher than most actual STEM majors, or am I an unserious dumb stupid person for being more into the humanities than science? Do I have proper Sad-Nerd Cred for getting my Lonely Sad-Nerdness started so young, or has it been revoked since now that I'm twenty-five I turned out kinda pretty and can dress myself?
I think I'm gonna go with Option Three, which is the one where guys like Joe the Peacock and Tony Effing Doesn't-Look-At-All-Like-Johnny-Depp Harris and all their whiny brethren SHUT THE EVERLOVING FUCK UP AND STOP POLICING ME.
Does this mean you can never whine about posers in your midst? Not necessarily; whining about posers is a classic part of being part of any subculture, particularly if you come up with a cute patronizing name for them. Goths whine about poseurs (with an e), kindergothen, and baby bats. Wiccans complain about playgans. But geeks complain about... "fake geek girls" and "cosplay-chiks"? And then they want to pretend that it's totally not about gender, even though geeks are apparently the only fucking subculture who can't seem to come up with a gender-neutral term for "poser". Gimme a break.
But anyway, Nerdy Policing Dudes Who Whine About Their Being Too Many Girls At Your Parties These Days, if you want to know why all the Real Geek Ladiez(TM) that you claim you heart so much are getting all defensive when you whine about Fake Geek Girls(TM) no matter how many times you assure us that you are so totally not talking about us at all, this is why: Every Real Geek Lady(TM) that you know has been branded a Fake Geek Girl by somebody else. Nearly every Real Geek Lady is tired of being under constant suspicion of being a Fake Geek Girl. Probably most Real Geek Ladies have at some point or another dipped their toe into an aspect of geekdom that wasn't really their own personal One True Geekdom that they know really in depth, and don't want to get branded as Not A Geek At All because we ventured outside our area of very very serious geek expertise or half-assed one thing that one time. And probably every Real Geek Lady has at some point met some dude who knew less about her area of very very serious geek expertise than she did, and she didn't get to kick him out of geekdom for it. If I decided every dude who said something laughably wrong to me about vampires wasn't really a geek, I would have very good reason to wonder why there are so few Real(TM) geek men out there but sooooooooooo0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o inexplicably many poseurs. But nobody challenges the idea that geekdom really is a really male-dominated (or at least male-highly-participated-in) subculture for reals, no matter how much we define geeks as smart and how often the men in geekdom say things that are really, really dumb.
I would like to submit that Tony Fugly Harris is not a real geek because he can't spell for shit. Real Geeks(TM) are well known for being perfectionist and viciously nitpicky about spelling and grammar, amirite?
Am I a really and truly for reals Bona Fide Geeky Lady(TM)?