Females face sexism in “nerd” culture


Credit: Joel Mayorga

Gabby Sones

Credit: Joel Mayorga
Girls who enjoy aspects of “nerd culture” are often times subjected to blatant sexism by “nerdy” guys. Credit: Joel Mayorga/The Foothill Dragon Press

If you’re a  girl who likes Star Wars, X-Men, World of Warcraft, or even math and science, you may have been accused of pretending to enjoy these pastimes to “impress men.”

In the media, “nerds” are typically portrayed as heterosexual, tech-y men who pine after women and drown their sorrows in lab projects and comics. Though at first glance it seems fortunate that the conventionally received image isn’t the reality, the true behavior of some “geeky guys” is growing discriminate and cruel.

The predominantly male “nerd” community has gotten wrapped up in the idea that there is no possible way a woman could ever share their interests, and that any woman who claims to is lying to receive praise and attention from men.

Computers, comics, video games, action figures and even academics have been filed under “geeky guy” in the file cabinet of stereotypes, but does that mean all women, regardless of whether they’re a die-hard fan or simply dabbling in any of these pastimes, should be scoffed at and accused of faking their interest?

I, personally, have experienced the resentment toward females in the male-oriented “nerd” world. Men’s “boys rule, girls drool” demeanor can be provoked just by stepping into a local comic book store. While perusing the shelves at Seth’s Games and Anime as the only female in the store, other customers gawked, commented, and even laughed.

Deceitful movies, TV shows and more have convinced a majority of the male-oriented nerd community that women are supposed to hate “nerdy” guys like them. Take Sixteen Candles, This Big Bang Theory, or Weird Science for example. They all include electronics-obsessed guys who seem to absolutely repulse women. This stereotype is so deeply engraved in the heads of “nerd men” that they’ve become completely blind to the fact that some girls are genuinely attracted to video games, science, and them. This is why they lash out at females who enter their world.

A meme titled “Idiot Nerd Girl” was created to trivialize women’s interests in “nerd culture.” The series provides examples of poser-esque lines a girl might say to get a guys attention. Though it is entirely possible for either a man or a woman to pretend to be interested in Star Trek, the meme refers only to girls. But an internet meme is just the beginning of the misogynistic propaganda. Many comics use storylines revolving around rape and the beating of women. The shocking graphics may attract readers, but promoting this kind of imagery is basically zapping women’s hope for justice with the death ray.

Female characters involved in these scandalous books are often dressed in minimal clothes, and are often interpreted by the reader as sexual figures. Perhaps this is part of why real women are seen as the same thing when they walk into a comic book store: a sexual figure. With comics, video games, and other aspects of “nerd culture” appealing more commonly to men, the sexualization of women in their content is more common.

Events like Comic-Con attract overwhelming numbers of eager fans, some male and some female. A way people show their support for their favorite characters is by dressing up as them and acting the character out, also known as “cosplaying. Girls are slut shamed for dressing up as Black Cat, a popular Marvel Comics character. Many are told they’re only at the convention for attention.

The problem is it’s actually difficult to find a female character to dress as for Comic-Con that isn’t going to be considered either racy or attention-seeking. Girls are being criticized, derided, and dismissed by men because of a problem caused by none other than the male’s side of “nerd culture.” It begins with the comic world being so male-oriented; it’s the reason why female characters are made so flashy, which is why some girls dress the way they do at conventions, and it’s the reason why the army of “nerd boys” are attacking girls and trying to overthrow them from the now sexist circle of comic readers.

Comic books are supposed to be entertainment, not an opportunity for more sexist conflict. Regardless of whether or not you think the female clothing pertaining to the “nerd world” is flashy, it’s still causing problems, and it’s still getting insults catapulted at female Comic-Con attendees.

Theories have also surfaced that men believe all women who show interest in the typical pastimes of “nerd boys” are only trying to mock them in their own domain. Insecurity forces them to put a wall up, which is heartbreaking, indeed, but it’s about time men understand that women are going to be at their sides everywhere, whether it’s in an AP calculus class, or at Gamestop.

A nerd isn’t even a specific classification. A nerd is typically an individual who has expert knowledge in a certain field. The slang use of “nerd” evolved into a group that was supposedly undesirable, but now seems to be the top of the social ladder.

Men and women are clashing over a group that has no initiation at all, yet is so impossible to be accepted into. Men overrun the nerd world today, and need to stop marginalizing their female peers. Women need to stop being shamed, and start being included in this so-called “nerd world.”

What do you think?