The man, the myth, the legend.
Respect the Sphere
No, I’m not talking about the one in everyone keeps thinking will happen here in the United States. I doubt a civil war could happen (primarily because we have no infrastructure anymore capable of one side or the other ever achieving “victory”, as it were) and, if it did, it’d probably be Texas versus everyone else. And Tom Kratman already wrote that book.
No, what I’m focused on more is the rapid escalation of hostilities in fandom. As you may have surmised, I had a cursory interest in fandom that has recently become… more (I joined the Official Honor Harrington Fan Association because I like Honor Harrington and I enjoy talking to David Weber (who I refuse to play spades against again)). So I’m going to do the costuming (the RMMC “uniform”, actually) and participating like any good little nerd does (and yes, I am a nerd. what of it?). I’m going to enjoy myself, meet new friends and impress the hell out of everyone.
But on the topic of costuming and fandom… well, lately it seems that a lot of people have gotten their panties in a twist because they see gurls dressed up in Star Trek outfits, or X-Men costumes, and don’t think that they’re “geeky” enough. This is a big problem apparently (one that I’ve never heard of, but people say it’s a problem so it must be a problem) and a lot of people are coming out against what they’re terming as “gatekeepers of geekdom”. Okay, they didn’t quite term it that way, I did. But it’s close enough to their point.
But I’m still confused, because I’ve never seen anything but support for anyone who does costume (well, except for those who put glitter all over their bodies and claim to be a vampire… there’s a special hell for those cosplayers). But there must be a problem, because even John Scalzi (outgoing SFWA president) says there is.
Maybe my problem here is that I just refuse to attend conventions that foster this sort of behavior? Instead of trying to get them to change, I just tell them “no thanks” and go about my way. Dragon*con (one where cosplaying is rampant) I won’t attend (too big and crowded) and San Diego Comic Con (another one too big) are probably the locales where the problems could be the most obvious (I see it more of a problem at SDCC than D*C, mainly because D*C doesn’t seem to tolerate that sort of crap).
But I still can’t recall instances of where someone told a girl that she wasn’t a true fan of such and such because she’s just dressed up. A part of me knows that it has happened before, because all legends have a birthplace in fact somewhere. But is it as big of a problem as the (surprisingly underreported) sexual harassment women deal with at cons? I know that one has basis in fact. I’ve seen it. I’ve warned men about doing such things again (with the promise of broken bones). This is the type of behavior we need to stop, not declaring jihad against “gatekeepers of geekdom”. Granted, there’s always going to be someone who claims superiority over someone else in terms of geekdom… that’s going to happen. Most of geekdom sucks at sports, and humans are a competitive animal, so they need to be the best at something. Even if it’s as obscure as knowing every line from a particular show or episode (Whovians are the worst… you should see the ritualistic dick-beating that occurs when you have two die-hard fans of different Doctors locked in a room together), it just means that they want to be the best. And if that offends some people, well…
Look, I sympathize with you. I used to get some strange looks in high school when the other jocks found out I played D&D (and Talisman, Vampire, etc). But instead of crying about it, I went out and did what I wanted. F*ck what other people think. This is your hobby, not theirs, and if they can’t respect it, then they don’t need to be in your sphere.
There seems to be a war brewing within fandom right now, though, over this. This is a stupid reason to go to war, in my opinion, but people seem to be determined to go there. Instead of focusing on issues that are very important (harassment, predatory agents, f*cked up publishers, DC comics screwing up Batman…) the focus is on whether or not a woman is truly nerdy enough to claim to be a geek.
Seriously. I can’t believe people even think like that anymore. C’mon, people. Really? Worked up over a minuscule percentage of fandom who don’t like girls who totally rock Power Girl’s costume and are jealous because they know they’ll never pull it off? Ridicule, I’ve found, is the best weapon against that sort of attitude. Ridicule and ignore them.
The sexual harassment, however, needs to stop. There’s no excuse for that.