So, I suppose this is where I tell you all about me and about the starting of (BF) Geek Girls—a sort of origins story cum villainous monologue of my intentions for this blog, this space in the aether…
The concept of being a “fake” geek girl was actually impressed upon me at a very young age, before I really understood what being a geek meant; for as long as I can remember, I was not allowed to watch certain movies or play video games because I was a girl. In fact, I was actively discouraged from even wanting to see or do certain things because it was a “boys only” thing. I was allowed to watch Star Wars repeatedly on VHS because it was my brother’s most beloved pick at movie time; I could, and should, enjoy listening to my Dad read to us every night from The Chronicles of Narnia, which he did until I was about 8 years old. But the moment I insisted on watching a sci-fi film or expressed interest in reading a fantasy book, I was immediately told that I couldn’t or shouldn’t want those things. Because I was a girl.
Now, these statements need some further exposition, so let’s roll back the clock a little more—I’ll try not to delve too deeply into the events of my own past, especially as I will no doubt end up referring back to different events, etc., in later posts. I was born in 1984 which, as I discovered recently, technically makes me a part of the Millennial generation. But in those present moments of my childhood, while that sociological/demographic designation was still years in the future, I never really felt like I belonged to my brother’s generation (he was born in 1981 and thus part of the previous) nor to mine and my sister’s, who is 3 years younger than me. Middle child syndrome? You betcha! I wasn’t cool enough—I was too much a girl—to play with my brother and his friends; and while I certainly didn’t feel too cool to play with my baby sister, neither was I driven to play with any and all children my own age. You could set me down in a room by myself and I would find a way to keep myself entertained… Where my brother and sister would beg to be released from their hellish solitary confinement ordeals of time-out, I would still be there—hours later—immersed in a completely different world of my own creation… And for whatever reason, that level of independence seemed to terrify my mother and my siblings.
And when something scares us, our primal instinct is not understanding, but annihilation. Because the idea, the horrifying specter of the fake geek girl? It’s not just something that we hear from social media or gaming magazines or films or fanboys with an overinflated sense of entitlement—it’s what we hear from our parents, from our siblings, from cousins and friends of both genders. And my “fake” geek girl story… it started at home, with a well-meant but misguided set of motherly interventions and some not so subtle yet cruelly effective brotherly inventions. My point here isn’t to criticize or villainize anyone in my family, but rather to highlight where my concept of what it meant to be a geek—and all the attendant shame and eventual pride and empowerment—comes from. Where I first learned how NOT to be a geek to avoid social censure, and where, after facing that past, I have chosen to embrace that wonderful, vibrant inner geek who managed to hang on in spite of the challenges placed in her way.
It was not having a Nintendo in the house because my Mom didn’t want us fighting over playing time (never mind that she knew how to use a fucking timer and could have kept us to a schedule if she had really wanted to, but only if she could have been legitimately fair about it). It was only getting to play on my Uncle’s Nintendo when my brother was bored, he managed to lose whatever level he had advanced to, or he was not there; or, when my Uncle would (*gasp*) keep us to timed sharing, it was being told that I was “playing it all wrong” or “cheating” when I stood closer to the screen while playing Duck Hunt (because seriously, people, what 3 year old is a great marksman and needs to be held to the same standards as a 6 year old??). It was being told not to touch my brother’s Star Wars action figures, or being told that I couldn’t play with my brother and his friends because I was a girl. It was being given the Little House on the Prairie books when my brother got Star Wars and Star Trek novels. It was being taken to see Beauty and the Beast for the third or fourth time in theaters, while my Dad and brother got to see Star Trek V; being forced to sit through Sleepless in Seattle with Mom and her best friend, while Dad took my brother to Jurassic Park.
But thankfully, there comes a point in every geek’s life where they decide to own their geekery, where you put your foot down with the haters in your life and say, “no more! This is what I like, and this is what I want to watch!” Even better, there are now plenty of outlets to help you express your geeky side and to help you connect with fellow geeks. And while I may have very specific likes, dislikes, and indifferences, I guess my ultimate goal here is to spend some time talking about my passions and maybe encouraging others to connect with that, to feel free to start talking about their passions. I want to be a part of constructing a positive, permissive creative environment; not just talk about the possibility, the eventuality, of that creative space, but to actually step up to the plate and live the life that I want, rather than simply existing because it’s what I “should” want or it’s what’s “expected” of me.
So, this is a call to arms, fellow citizens of geekdom! Rise up! Give yourself permission to geek, and then live your geekery. Stop worrying about what other people think and revel in the geeking joy!