Last summer, geek band The Doubleclicks released a song called “Nothing to Prove” with a video of geek women sharing their geekiness and some of the more disparaging comments they’ve received from men, followed by a bunch of geek women and men asking guys to stop being bullies. Read any forum or social media thread supporting programming, game design, gaming, comic books, or just about any other geeky topic, and you will find rampant sexism (often with illegal language attached), despite the fact we’re all members of the same tribe.
When I saw the video, I responded with a series of tweets reminding people that it’s not just men who bash on geek women and try to drive them out of their geeky pursuits:
While we’re pointing out how guys have made geeky pursuits unpleasant for women, let’s remember women also oppress geeky women. (#) My worst geek girl moment ever came at the hands of a condescending woman, and I no longer shop at that Barnes & Noble because of it (#) …which is sad, really, because it was a pair of guys at that B&N who helped me find my favorite books on scripting for graphic novels. (#) My second worst was a woman comic book store employee informing me my choice of comics was too girly. (The comic in question was The Guild.) (#)
The second worst attack I’ve ever endured as a geek girl…came at the hands of a another geek girl. In fact, I’ve endured more harassment from other geek girls than I have from geek guys, who have tended to be very welcoming, even when I was sitting in a corner needlepointing scenes involving dragons and writing fan fiction with boy characters who were too pretty for their own good.
Take a minute to think about that.
This is actually why I campaign for making gender a non-issue in geek circles. There is an “us vs. them” mentality among geeks, and it’s really not the one everyone expects. The Mean Girl phenomenon rears its ugly head (in some rather spectacular ways sometimes) in geekdom just as quickly as it does in “girly” circles, and men who engage in “girly” crafts and fandoms suffer the same fate in geek circles that they suffer outside geek circles.
It’s embarrassing. And we need to work together to make it stop.