Blerd Chick Stories: The Catch-22 of Fandom
As I have mentioned before, there is a problem in sci-fi/fantasy and fiction in general. People of Color are largely invisible, except when we are highly conspicuous. Sometimes invisible is preferable.
So this is one of the times when I feel sorry for the skinny, pretty, white girl. No really. I do have some sympathy for this girl and others like her who cosplay at cons. Why? Because they are stuck in the untenable position of always being covertly or overtly slut shamed because they trade on their sexuality in a genre wherein females only exist to be sexualized. Or they can ignore the reactions of others, dress as their favorite character for themselves and still get slut shamed as well as demeaned for not repaying in kind the people who fawn all over them.
Damned if they do, damned if they don’t all the while watching guys with a far greater number of options both for characters and for coverage never have to deal with the same issues. And heaven forfend that women don’t cosplay, especially if they look like the woman in the video! Then they’ve disappointed the guys at the con. You know, the guys who these women have never met and who they have no reason to try to please. Those guys? They will walk right up to the skinny, pretty, white girl at a con and demand an explanation as to why this girl is not in a revealing costume. Because it’s wrong for women to trade on their sexuality but it’s also wrong to deny strangers the opportunity to sexualize them.
In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, I’m a black chick who is seriously into all things sci-fi. OK, in truth I’m mixed race but it’s not like anyone cares about that when they look at me. So, I’m black, as is everyone who rates darker than taupe on a Sherrwin-Williams paint chart in modern America.
I’m a black chick at the game shop. I’m a black chick at the miniatures store. I’m a black chick in a Dr. Who shirt. I’m a black chick in the sci-fi/fantasy aisle at the bookstore. I’m a black chick on the internet when I write about the entertainment I enjoy. In other words, I’m a unicorn, so rarely seen that people actually follow me around to make sure I’m real. It’s also possible they’re waiting for me to lead them to the Magical Land of Blerd Chicks but I’m pretty sure it’s the first one.
I’m also a blerd chick who does not go to cons. Never. Not ever. Why? Because I too only have a very limited number of choices. In my case, the choices are actually better. As a fat, black chick I can be invisible because of my size or I can lead around a merry band of fascinated fanboys like I’m a member of the fucking Fellowship. Why do those boys follow me? Because they can’t believe they’ve spotter the elusive bled chick or they are waiting for me and my girlfriend to throw down whatever we’re carrying and jump each other for their entertainment.
I’m a PoC so I have an extremely limited pool from which I can pull cosplay templates. Think about it. Name for me please, a female character of color. Storm. You said Storm, right? Maybe Uhura.There are a few others but not many.
So I could cosplay Storm, except I’m fat, so not really. I mean I could, but I wouldn’t be comfortable of enjoy it so, no.
(Author’s Note: This is not me fishing for people to tell me I’m not fat. I am. I’m more than happy with myself and how I look. That was not a cry for comfort. It was a factual statement.)
OK, now name a fat female character of color. Depending on your fandom you may have thought of Amanda Waller. Dr. Waller, “The Wall” was a brilliant, badass with no superpowers who regularly backed down The Dark Knight among others. See?
Then DC did reboot and a movie and now she looks like this.
So, I can be invisible. That’s all.
And you know what? At cons, that’s better. It’s better to not exist than to be forced to serve the male gaze. It’s better to be invisible than to be maligned for refusing to do so. It’s better to be invisible than to be seen at cons because being female and being seen is always bad for women.
And guys? I know that some of you think that you’re better than this. I know you don’t see yourselves as “those dudes.” But you’re probably wrong.
If you’re engaging in or silently watching the sexualization of women in your fandom without actively and regularly speaking out against it you are part of the problem. Shaking your head and walking away is the opposite of helping. It is approval of that kind of behavior.
If you assume that females in your fandom are not “true” fans, require your assistance to understand a game system, need your help building a character or can’t pwn you in PvP, you are part of the problem.
If you quiz them to gauge their nerd cred, you are part of the problem.
If you dismiss their viewpoint because they are female and as such, in the minority in geekdom, you are part of the problem.
If you dismiss their viewpoint ever, you are part of the problem.
If you identify the issue of sexism in sci-fi as stemming from women exclusively, equally or at all, you are part of the problem.
If you’ve ever used the term “friend zone,” you are part of the problem.
If you creep on women in nerd “safe spaces,” you are part of the problem. Seriously, stop doing that.
If you’re pissed because a female got into your fandom through a new medium you’re a hipster douchebag and your point of view is childish and irrational. The reason comic companies make movies IS TO EXPAND THEIR FANDOM AND MAKE MORE MONEY. The fact that you need that explained to you is tragic and sad.
“OMG Witch, I realize now that I am part of the problem! How to I become part of the solution?”
Thank you for asking imaginary sci-fi dude. Instead of expecting a cookie because you’re not actively stalking women at cons and through the game store, you can look at the list above and not do those things. More than that, you can call out those things as sexism when you see them. Then you can take it a step further and make it clear that sexism in not acceptable.
You can help women at cons by learning to control your reaction to your erection. Look, I’m bi. I get that looking at a how female sometimes causes an involuntary response. I do. But you don’t have to act on it. You don’t have to hit on her. You don’t have to hate on her because you know you shouldn’t hit on her. Just act right. It’s not that complicated.