Logically, I understand that there are times when it’s best to just keep my mouth shut and ignore jerks with asinine arguments. I know it’s best to just stop drawing attention to these comments by responding, and that it’s probably best to just let it go. However, there are some accusations that have a strong impact on me, just as they affect other women in the nerdy community. I have been called some pretty awful things, but the terms associated with “fake nerd girl” just really make my blood boil. (When I think of something less cliché, I will let you know.)
I know it’s probably foolish to get angry, but the reaction I have stems from years of continuously repeated experiences of insults, demeaning and lewd comments, and jokes made at my expense. The horrible experiences to which I am referring have nothing to do with my speech impediment, or the mean teens back in high school who decided it was cool to bully me for not fitting in. No, these comments go far deeper than that. These comments were from other members of the nerdy community – the people who are supposed to be on my side.
Microaggressive comments are quite comment in fandoms, though they are not limited to just that community. They are in the illogical abhorrence for minorities, LGBTQA groups, those with disabilities, and more. Unfortunately, they do also apply to the aggression that stems towards female members of the fandom communities:
“You don’t look like a nerd! You’re hot!”
“You just don’t look like someone who reads comics.”
“Wearing your husband’s shirt, huh?”
“You’re, like, every nerd’s wet dream.”
“Your husband is f*cking lucky to have a hot nerd for a wife!”
Comments such as those are not compliments. They are not positive in context, and they are remarks that I try to avoid receiving at all costs. They exclude us women from our own community, as well as sexualize us when it has not been asked for. Comments such as these imply that we are abnormal, don’t fit in, or are somehow inferior. Furthermore, they imply that most women are all the same, so anyone who proves themselves worthy (in the eyes of these men) is an abnormal specimen who exists purely for their amusement.
Some men go even further with their aggression, to the point of intentional verbal insults and threats:
“You are what I refer to as CON-HOT.” – Tony Harris
“Pretty girls who try to be geeks, but obviously aren’t. [Adopts hipster tone] ‘Oh, I wear glasses and my hair is in a pigtail.’ You’re hot! You’re not fooling me! There are no lenses in those glasses! But it’s awesome.” – Donald Glover (Childish Gambino), when asked what his female fans are like.
“F*cking fake gamer chick. Bet your brother took that last shot for you!” – some jerk during online game play
“Go make me a sandwich, b*tch! I will f*cking [r-word] your face!” – another jerk during online game play.
There are myriad more comments, though I am sure you get the point by now. Comments such as these trigger an emotional response because they are the sentiments of past aggressive comments. They say that, yes, women lack the right comics/videogame/etc. knowledge. No, real nerdy girls are not pretty or feminine. Yes, men are the core of the fandom community.
There are also the quizzes that men give to women when they see a woman in a nerdy shirt:
“Bet you don’t even know the origin story.”
“I gotta test girls, because sometimes they like to dress up like a comics nerd for attention. But, they really don’t know sh*t. It’s cool you do, though. You’re not like other girls.” – When I asked a guy why he was quizzing me on Marvel when I just $25 right in front of him for a shirt.
“Let me guess, you just like watching the movies, huh? ‘cause you like looking at Thor.” – some jerk with insecurities
Comments like these, and the fact that my Star Trek shirt must belong to my husband, are just as painful and damaging as the more aggressive attacks. They say that I cannot love the things I do. My stuff does not belong to me. My passions are not my own. I do not belong anywhere.
These same men will make such comments, and then turn around and complain that there are no nerdy women out there. Trust me. We’re out there. We just don’t like you. How do you expect to talk to us if you make us feel inferior to you simply for having different genitalia?
This type of egotistical exclusivity is just as bad as the bullies that beat these guys up in high school. They were made fun of for not being one of them, for not fitting in, and for not being cool. The nerdy community was a shunned group, and stuck together as a result. Why, then, are they doing the same thing as those bullies?