Today, Amanda Hess posted an interview with blogger Courtney Stoker about being a feminist and a nerd, and participating in geeky fandoms where sexism seems particularly rampant. She doesn’t talk about games, but her experience is probably all too familiar for many of our readers:
I’ve blogged about Doctor Who and geek culture quite a bit lately, and I’d say about half of the responses I’ve received have been positive (and a few bright shining ones have been thanking me for saying what needed to be said). The others vacillate between mocking me for being a lady (the implication being that I am silly to talk about feminism or sci fi like I Know Things, on account of my obviously inferior lady-brain), mocking me for being a feminist (usually one Made of Straw), accusing me of inserting my dirty lady-feelings (irrelevant and irrational!) into a discussion of sci fi/geek culture, and determining that I am a Bad Feminist for any number of reasons. It’s hard, sometimes, because I only talk about sci fi things because I am a fan. Sci fi is a huge part of my life and my research. To have members of this community tell me that I am not qualified to Talk About Things on account of being a lady or a feminist is exhausting and disempowering. When I first forayed into this community, I thought that it would be progressive, feminist, and proud of its lady members (and not, you know, for their boobs). It’s been a hard let-down.
Courtney also talks about the roles women and girls are expected to play in geek fandoms, how some white male geeks appropriate the experience of oppression, and the politics of cosplay. It’s a great read.
I’ve definitely gone through this sort of thing in the various gaming communities I’ve tried to join. It’s often these sorts of experiences that lead people to create communities like The Border House. Is Courtney’s story familiar to you? Are there any fandoms that are more welcoming? If you do participate in fandom, how do you deal with marginalizing comments?