Sunday, April 22, 2012

No, I Don't Think Women Are Weak

I've blogged about this before but it warrants repeating. I, nor any feminist I know personally, thinks that all women are weak and need men to protect them. That's pretty much the opposite of what feminism as a whole believes. HOWEVER, we do acknowledge that women are human, therefore exhibit a range of strength, and some women are weak and vulnerable just like some men are weak and vulnerable. Feminists also acknowledge that this vulnerability is often taken advantage of, and that women are being screwed over in many ways that do warrant legal reform in order to prevent said screwing over.

The goal of feminism is not to turn every woman on the planet into a stoic badass. We do think that's a perfectly okay way to be, and we want to encourage that through empowerment. However, there's nothing wrong with being vulnerable, or sensitive, or emotional, or exhibiting any traits that are considered feminine and thus "weak." Women. Are. Human. And as humans, we are subject to the world around us whether we like it or not - anyone who has ever studied sociology, psychology, or communications will tell you that socialization does affect how a person develops. Looking glass self and all those fancy buzzwords. We shouldn't be surprised when women act the way they've been expected to act their whole lives, and we certainly shouldn't put down that behavior. If a woman chooses to embrace her vulnerability, or whatever other "weak," feminine traits within her, that's her own damn business. Feminism is about choice, remember? And remember that feminists also want men to be allowed to show their vulnerable sides as well.

That said, it's not sexist or somehow bad for women to acknowledge that women are getting the shitty end of the stick. They are being raped and beaten far more often than men, they are being paid less than men, they are still discriminated against. And while women should be empowered to fight that crap, there should be laws in place to protect them from the bullshit. I'm not saying every woman needs a knight in shining armor, but for god's sake, it's the law's JOB to protect people from being hurt and screwed over. It's just an unfortunate coincidence that the police forces and court systems are still dominated by men. That should change too, by the way.

Now, this came up when I posted something on Tumblr saying that if a woman feels uncomfortable in a situation - specifically, if she perceives a guy as "creepy," she should be allowed to trust her instincts and act accordingly. The reaction was that I was assuming women were all weak and needed protecting, and that most women unfairly label men "creepy" when they really should consider why they feel that way. Yes, a woman's perception could be shaped by sexism, ageism, racism, etc., but we shouldn't assume that's always the case. A woman could examine her perception and why she felt unsafe AFTER she has gotten to a safe place or situation. It's about priorities: safety first, then in-depth examinations of privilege. We need to trust that women can make decisions for themselves, especially in regards to safety. This is not about women needing to be protected, it's about women protecting themselves from perceived threats.

Silly me, I thought that women who ignored their instincts and stayed in creepy situations just to be nice and politically correct were the "stupid" ones that needed empowerment. Isn't teaching women how to protect themselves usually considered empowerment?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Race and Nerd Culture

It may not be my place for several reasons to discuss this matter, but I do feel it should be acknowledged. Nerd culture, along with being predominantly male, is overwhelmingly white as well. In fact, nerd culture is strongly associated with whiteness more than it is associated with maleness, as indicated by the song "White 'n' Nerdy" and the commonly phrase "I'm so white" to describe just how nerdy someone is.

Now, I can sort of give anime and Japanese video games a slight pass for having mostly white and Asian characters. There aren't many people of color in Japan, so you can't expect a high level of them in the media. They do exist in anime, of course. There's Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena - though I can't shake the fact that she's the most dehumanized character in the entire series, constantly being slapped, literally being treated like a slave and an object, and being extremely passive and allowing herself to be handed from person to person. A better example of women of color in anime is one of the girls in Nana whose name has escaped me since it's been entirely too long since I've watched the anime or read the series and Wikipedia is not helping. I remember her being a much stronger character, but still relatively marginalized. At my panel, a girl mentioned that she understands why there are so few people of color in anime, but she's always thrilled when she comes across them.

The interesting thing when it comes to race and gender in anime is that there are very few protagonists who are women of color. However, in Samurai Champloo one of the male protagonists is dark skinned, and there is of course Afro Samurai, one of the few dubs my anime club agreed to watch due to Samuel L. Jackson's voice acting.

While it's understood why these characters are few and far between, what we need to acknowledge the impact it has on American anime culture. Not only does it perpetuate stereotypes and makes it seem as though anime isn't "for" people of color, it leads to people of color having very few cosplay options if they wish to cosplay within their race - the alternative is to cosplay a white or Asian character, and risk getting some pretty harsh and racist backlash from people at the convention and from commenters on any pictures or videos they appear in. Low representation of a group in any form of media can have a negative impact on that group's psychological well-being and self-esteem, as well as the way they are perceived in the surrounding culture.

What's harder to excuse is the low representation of people of color - as well as Asians - in American comics, video games, webcomics, and science fiction movies, as well as British movies and TV shows commonly associated with nerd culture such as Doctor Who and Harry Potter. These countries have much higher numbers of blacks, Hispanics, and other ethnicities that are barely represented in the media in general. I for one cannot name any black superheros, and while I don't know of every comic ever created, I am fairly familiar with the more mainstream ones. My favorite internet cartoon series, Neurotically Yours, has one black character - a squirrel, naturally, and a very stereotypical black character at that. Not to bash NY too much, I love the series and that flaw isn't really going to change that, but it's a flaw worth pointing out.

I remember watching a friend of mine play a video game with a highly stereotypical black character on it, and when I pointed out the racism he said "nah, he's cool! and it's funny!" Well, easy for white people to find racial stereotypes hilarious, and I'm not saying I don't laugh when black people make fun of white people, but white people are the privileged group, the one in power, so it is different when we laugh at anther race's expense.

Another reason why we see so few people of color participating in nerd culture has to do with the connection between economic status and race. It's not racist to point out the remaining de facto segregation still affecting many African Americans and Hispanics, or the racial gaps in wage, employment, and education. This means that statistically, white people are more likely than black or Hispanic people to be middle and upper class, and that's pretty much the class you need to be in to even partially participate in nerd culture. Being a nerd is expensive! Manga is expensive, anime DVDs are expensive, video games are expensive, going to a convention is really expensive, merchandise is expensive, hell even the cost of comic books can add up. Not to mention, in order to watch anime legally you need to either buy DVDs, get a Netflix account, have cable, or at the very least have an internet connection that supports streaming (it's really frustrating to watch anything on a slow connection) - all of which cost money, though these things are usually taken for granted by most people in my anime club. Schools that have anime clubs are typically the wealthy schools mostly attended by white kids, whereas inner city schools that are predominantly attended by African American and Hispanic kids hardly have the money for after school clubs at all. Get anime from the library? Yeah, a good library in a middle class community perhaps. People in low income communities simply do not have the same access to nerd culture as people in more affluent neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the costs associated with being a nerd can skew the racial makeup of the subculture.

There are multiple systems of privilege that exist in nerd culture as well as American society as a whole. The main difference is that nerd culture prides itself on being so egalitarian and so "past" discrimination that they feel it's okay to engage in "ironic" sexism and racism, and they don't ever feel the need to examine their privileges even for a second, because they're "above" needing to do so. Any hint that this isn't true, that nerds are just as susceptible to discrimination is dismissed at best and met with anger and extreme defensiveness at worst. This, and the fact that I'm becoming increasingly involved with the subculture, is why I am now choosing to focus on the systems of privilege, especially gender dynamics, within it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Housewife" is NOT an Insult!

It really bothers me when someone used the term "housewife" - usually 1950's housewife specifically - to describe someone they believe has little autonomy, self-worth, empowerment, or mind of her own. And it pisses me off.

For one thing, a woman is a housewife for one of two reasons: either she has chosen to do so, or she felt pressure from her social situation to do so. In the former scenario, we shouldn't shame a woman for her choice, even if we don't agree with it. She probably didn't choose it because it was the easy way out, because she had no "real" aspirations or dreams of her own, or because she has little personality and opinions and wants a man to dominate her. She probably did it because she just wanted that lifestyle, and found real fulfillment in homemaking and being with her children. Good for her. It's not for everyone, and it's certainly not feasible for everyone, but good for her all the same. Remember, feminism is about choices, and just as the second wave petitioned for the right to work, so must we defend the social right to stay at home.

In the latter scenario, where the woman felt an immense pressure to be a housewife either for social or religious reasons, we can't shame her for doing what she was socialized to do. It's maddening when this happens in general. Sure, we can encourage women to go against the grain and flip the middle finger to those who control her, but to actually expect women to do so and then shame them for failing to rise above social pressures is unrealistic. Not to mentioned privileged. Most of the people who have told me to "just ignore" social pressures tend to be guys, and while guys certainly feel social pressure, it's not the same as it is for women. Women, especially young women, are given all sorts of messages from the cradle to the grave about what it means to be a "good woman," a "good girl," a nice girl. From my research, I've found that all the pressure young women are under as they grow up can take a really serious toll on them emotionally.

Now, when I explain this to guys, they laugh. They don't see it, they don't experience it, they usually don't inflict it, so they don't see what the big deal it. They may not see it because women aren't supposed to show it, even to each other, leading many of us to feel alone. These guys think that anyone who can't take this pressure in stride must just be a "pussy," because it can't be that hard. OR that anyone who even acknowledges it is sexist against women. Women are strong, they say, women can handle it. At least, empowered women can.

Back to the housewife issue, I can't understand why people shame women for just being what everyone around them expects them to be. They're put in a double bind, either do what her parents and her partner and her church and her social class expect of her, or do what more progressive people want her to do which is rebel - and she can't possibly please everyone. So she could just please herself, but at what cost? Losing the support of those she loves, experiencing great shame from those around her, to name a few. Losing membership of the church she has been otherwise loyal to her whole life. At this point, what does she want? She can't tell. And if she chooses wrong, someone will probably still make assumptions about her motives, especially if her choice isn't what they think is best for her.

The problem is, and this is typically what male privilege prevents guys from understanding, is that even now in the 21st century, women are still being socialized to be pleasers. Please their parents, please their friends, their boyfriends, people on the street, their church - everything they do, they are expected to do with others in mind. They're still expected to be police, nice, and selfless. Even when a woman does do something genuinely for herself, others assume she must be doing something for attention or validation from someone. Living for yourself, for a woman, is seen as a largely selfish act. Don't want to have kids? Selfish. Don't want to stay at home? Selfish. Don't want to work? Selfish. Don't want to put on makeup and look pretty when you go to the mall? Selfish. (yeah, really. I know there are times, like a formal event or job interview, when you need to look nice, but I've gotten some pretty harsh looks for going out in public with just a t-shirt, jeans, loose ponytail, and no makeup. people actually look disgusted and offended that I didn't doll myself up.)

There are two things I'm trying to get at: 1) Do not use the term "housewife" as an insult. The choice to become a housewife is a complex one that has many social and economic factors and the fact that someone is a housewife is not really indicative of her personality or her level of self-worth. 2) Stop shaming women for not rising above the social pressures they've had to deal with their whole lives. Again, it's a complex, social and psychological issue, and just because someone has a hard time rebelling against society doesn't mean they're weak, stupid or immature, and to make those kinds of judgments is hardly fair to that person.

I think I've said this before on my blog, but for the love of god, let women be human. Let us have bad days, moments of weakness, self-doubt, etc. without shaming us for said humanity. I am a person, I should not be expected to "rise above" my gender or its expectations and become this superhero you think a feminist or empowered woman is supposed to be.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mixed Feelings About Geek Girl Con

I was THRILLED when I heard about Geek Girl Con, really I was. Finally, I thought, a convention addressing female nerds and their interests, rather than catering almost exclusively to guys. I wished I could go, but unfortunately the convention is in Seattle. I do not live in Seattle, nor do I have the means to fly out there, stay in a hotel room for 2-3 nights, and buy food in food courts or restaurants or wherever food is available for that weekend.

Seriously guys, conventions add up, think about it. There's registration, which is obvious, then unless you live next door to the convention center there's usually some travel expense incurred. If you're coming from out of the state or even outside the city you probably need a hotel room unless you have a friend who lives in the area. Then you have to get food for all the days you're there, and chances are the food by the convention center isn't cheap. And of course, most conventions have some consumerism aspect to it, most people buy something in the dealers/expo room, artists alley, whatever is there, it's difficult to resist. If you want to talk about intersectionality in nerd culture, members of marginalized groups such as women and people of color often feel an increased desire to prove their nerdiness in order to compensate for the fact that the way they were born doesn't correlate with the default nerd image (white, male, middle class, etc.), and prove that they belong in the community, and one of the best ways to do this is by buying nerdy things and attending more nerd conventions. The supposed implication is that if they don't buy manga and video games and they don't attend all these conventions, they must not be "real" nerds after all.

So anyway, yeah I can't go to Geek Girl Con unless they expand and do an eastern branch like the Penny Arcade Expo. Probably not likely to happen soon.

Now let me make this clear, I'm all for having spaces for women in nerd culture. As long as we're marginalized it's good to have at least a few spaces for us where that isn't the case and we can focus on OUR perspective on how things are going.

However, the problem is that unless we infiltrate the mainstream nerd culture so to speak, we end up with a bit of gender segregation going on. The spaces for women will remain necessary as the rest of nerd culture remains male-focused. The overall goal should be to change the latter so that clubs, conventions, late night cable lineups, etc. cater to both genders. There should be an effort not just on women's websites and women's conventions to address sexism and nerd culture, that effort should be in regular conventions and websites as well.

My First Panel

Last Sunday I held a panel - well, a one woman panel anyway - on the topic of gender and nerd culture at Anime Boston. Anime Boston, for those unfamiliar, is the biggest anime convention in New England, so it felt like the perfect place to start giving this presentation. It was originally going to be more of a discussion, which is why I requested a small room, but I got carried away with my presentation and it took up the better part of an hour.

Now, the panel was originally waitlisted. The coordinator said it wasn't exactly relevant for an anime and Japanese gaming convention. Fair enough, it does deal with a broad issue of nerd culture in general. And my friends were unconvinced that a lot of people would be interested in a panel like that. But it was accepted on the second and final round, giving me two weeks to prepare. I advertised it to people on my friendlist, and on the convention's form and Facebook page, but only my friends RSVP'd, so when the day finally came I was slightly afraid no one outside my circle of friends would attend.

I filled the room. People came in droves, a staff member had to clear out the people sitting on the floor and there was a line of people waiting to get in during the panel. I should consider asking for a bigger room next time. I was thrilled, and I was also excited that a lot of people seemed genuinely interested in the topic and had questions and comments throughout the presentation. In the future I may ask people to hold questions and comments for the end, but I really like engaging people in what I'm talking about.

I also need to decide whether I want to cut the presentation down to be a little shorter, or ask for more time. My friend insisted that if it was any longer people might be bored, but I'm unconvinced.

Unfortunately I haven't gotten a whole lot of substantial feedback in terms of what I should cover in the future, or maybe some things I should change, so I've mostly been trying to figure that out on my own. For one thing I plan on talking about booth babes in future presentations, as well as common gendered tropes in anime. I will admit I may have made a mistake in assuming that guys like the male fantasy of power that the hypermasculine video game heroes usually represent - some do, but since the panel I've found that many guys actually feel a disconnect between themselves and the super muscular man-apes in video games, hence why so many of them opt for the female playable characters when possible, because they are easier to relate to despite being female.

This seems to be a presentation that grows and evolves with time, but nevertheless something I want to keep doing. I very much enjoyed being up there and talking about the subject. I also didn't mind the applause and the praise I got afterwards, it was pretty rewarding.

You Know What Happens When You Assume

This is a general message, but it's something I really want decision-makers in the nerd community to hear: stop assuming what men and women want. It's getting old.

Game developers assume their audience is mostly white, heterosexual teenage boys, so they cater to what they THINK that demographic wants. Vendors at conventions use booth babes because they assume the (presumably male dominated) audience wants to see. Anime club officers will mostly show anime aimed at men, because they assume that the women won't care if all the club watches is robots and pantyshots and the men won't want to watch anything that remotely appeals to a female audience.

Fact is, men don't necessarily need to see impossibly hot women in impossibly skimpy outfits in order to enjoy a video game. A poll on the PAX website showed that convention attendees preferred to have knowledgeable people working at booths rather than just attractive women who don't know much about the product. Statistics show that many male gamers actually prefer to play as women in games where they can choose to play as a man or woman, because the male option is so hypermasculine that they actually relate to the woman more than the man (not to mention the female avatars tend to look more human than the male options). Plenty of male gamers find it refreshing and therefore interesting when the hero in a game happens to be a woman. Plenty of guys enjoy watching Studio Ghibli movies, many of which feature strong female protagonists. When my anime club watched anime featuring female protagonists, or just had a strong presence of women, they guys didn't run away screaming, their junk didn't fall off, most of them ENJOYED the series.

Now, I wonder what the actual standards are for what constitutes a strong female character. I feels like female protagonists are often under a lot of scrutiny and are expected to be nothing less than superheroes with hearts and minds of steel, with very little femininity to speak of. There's still this femiphobic idea that a woman cannot be both feminine and strong, she has to be one or the other. I also get the feeling that female leads have to be REALLY awesome in order to win the attention of male viewers. BUT the fact remains that men don't have quite the aversion to female characters that a lot of executives seem to think.

Ultimately, decision makers in the nerd community need to do a little more market research before just assuming what their male and female demographics want. Because as it turns out, they're not always correct.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Booth Babes

This past weekend, a scantily clad cosplaying model was asked to leave the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East, due to complaints that her outfit was too revealing and the staff made the judgment call that she was in violation of their recent "no booth babes" rule. A rule I'm very happy about, really.

Now this is still a fairly vague concept to me because having only attended Anime Boston and ROFLcon I haven't really seen booth babes in action. I just read about them. And I wish I'd thought to mention them in Sunday's panel on gender and nerd culture but I didn't even think about the subject when putting together the presentation. No matter, I'll bring it up next time and in the meantime conduct research on the subject.

And, almost by instinct, this appears to be an intersectionality issue. These women constantly report being sexually harassed and even groped on the job, and what's worse is that people tell them they should expect it because they are scantily clad and attractive. If they don't like it, they are told to just get another job. Because clearly, if you work any job at a convention, your job options are wide open. I've never worked at one personally, but I can tell you that it looks like hell, like it's basically a retail job where the crowds are relentless, and due to the nature of nerd culture, not always the friendliest people. Working as a booth babe looks glamorous to a newcomer, and may be only slightly less awful than, say, working in a fast food restaurant. Even without the harassment, you're on your feet in heels for hours on end, you have to smile all the time and be nice to everyone, even the biggest assholes on the planet. Some might be in it for the modeling aspect, others may choose it because it's a job they happen to be qualified for, and they need the money. They may also appreciate the flexible hours, and the fact that the jobs are mostly on weekends, leaving them the rest of the week to a) work another job or b) take care of their kids. Or perhaps look for a job that doesn't involve as much sexual harassment, but let's face it, many of them do.

In general, telling someone they should just quit their job and get another is incredibly classist. It's also ignorant of the fact that most lower level jobs are just as terrible, and that the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. The crappy job you may be leaving may actually be less crappy than the new one, it's really a gamble. And let's not forget that not everyone can afford to remain unemployed for an indefinite amount of time.

Also, harassment doesn't have to be part of the job. Maybe it is, but it doesn't have to be. You don't have to harass someone just because she's a booth babe, you can just as easily not harass her and your convention experience will be completely unchanged. Wearing a skirt for any reason (other than maybe being an actual sex worker) is not an invitation to treat someone like a sex object; same goes for being nice to someone. Just because I make eye contact with a guy does not mean he's allowed to be creepy toward me.

Yes, these women know they might be harassed if they take the job. They also know if they don't take the job, they might not be able to pay rent.

I also take issue with the gender dynamic at play in general. Here we see another example of women's bodies being used to promote a product. It's been used for a long, long time and in all sorts of media but that doesn't make it okay. Another problem is that by using booth babes, these dealers and in fact the convention itself sends a message that their intended audience is men, they are only interested in investing in men's interests and ultimately only care about their male customers. This message may make the expo scene unappealing to women, who are not comfortable in a room filled with overt sexualization of women, where women's primary role is that of a sex object. PAX may have taken a huge risk in banning the use of booth babes, because they may have angered their male base - the fact that they took that risk earns them major points in my book, and the fact that people aren't really that angry should send a message to the rest of the industry: it might not be a horrible thing if booth babes were a thing of the past. People will still attend the conventions, they'll still buy things, and they'll still have a good time. I'm surprised men aren't offended at the implication they need boobs to entice them into buying something.

Monday, April 9, 2012

My History with Video Games

Growing up in the 1990's, video games always seemed like a "guy thing." I didn't know any girls who played video games, the people I remember playing them were my neighbor and friend's older brother, and some of my male cousins. I can't remember if I wasn't interested because they were a guy thing, or if that perception made me feel like I shouldn't be interested. I think I may have wanted to try but was too afraid to ask. Though oddly enough I did play with some "boy toys" like Legos and Hot Wheels. I don't remember seeing video game commercials on TV growing up, or if I did they did not interest me for a long time.

The first video game I remember playing was Power Pete. It was a game where a toy soldier, very masculine and GI Joe-esque, would battle through several worlds in a toy store to rescue bouncing bunnies. Yeah, really. It was highly addictive though. It came pre-installed on my family's computer, an early Macintosh desktop. I saw my dad playing it once, and eventually decided I wanted to try. I think I remember asking my dad too, though I wonder if he was hesitant at first. Again, I was young, we still lived in the apartment at the time so I couldn't have been older than 7. Most of the games I played had educational purposes: Math Blaster, Treasure Cove, Millie's Math House, stuff like that. But I got into it and boy did I love it! Although I don't think I beat it for a few years. It wasn't exactly easy. God I miss that game.

I didn't know what Zelda was, nor did I know a heck of a lot about Mario other than my cousins in Canada liked to play it and they were often frustrated with the game. Again, it looked like fun but I was afraid to ask if I could try. Never mind learning about games like Silent Hill or Final Fantasy until I was much, much older. Not like I would have been allowed to play them until I was older.

When I was in elementary school, I think third or fourth grade, I finally wanted a Playstation. I think it was the Spice Girls video game that intrigued me. Though I'd seen commercials for the Spyro game and that looked like fun too. I was in forth grade when I got it, and it came with a demo disk that got me hooked on Spyro, Crash Bandicoot Warped, and Medievil (which I pronounded "Medi-evil" for the longest time). I rented a few others too that I don't remember. Of course, with the exception of the Spice Girls game which I hardly count nowadays, all the video games I really liked had male heroes. And I barely noticed it, though I did enjoy the chance to play as Coco Bandicoot in parts of Warped and again in Crash Team Racing where you could choose which character you could drive as. I also found a cheat to turn Spyro pink and used it. I didn't mind that I usually had to play as a male character because the games were fun regardless, although I always relished the opportunity to play a female character when possible.

I remember not being allowed to play Medievil until I was 12, and even then my dad had his hesitations. I think I remember trying to sneak it somehow, maybe I was playing the demo or something, and one of my friends narc'd on me to my dad and I got in trouble. I think that happened anyway . . . ANYWAY that kept me from even touching the other, more violent games. Then again, the horror genre didn't really intrigue me much anyway. Wasn't a horror fan until later in life. And I didn't have gamer friends. I had cousins who were into games but my friends weren't, until I got to 6th grade and a couple kids in my science class also liked Spyro. They seemed to grow out of it after a while.

I remember being very hesitant to try new video games when around male peers, or groups of peers that were predominantly male anyway. In general I have a fear of failing at something and looking stupid, which is why I'm generally uncomfortable with one on one lessons in just about anything, but when it came to video games it wasn't just the fear of failing that kept me away from the controller. I was afraid that I would do poorly and look stupid, and my failure to immediately catch on would be attributed to my gender rather than my rookie status. I figured people would expect me to do poorly because I was a girl, and then laugh when I would inevitably fail. Silly girl, thinking she could play video games, now let the men keep playing. Now, was that a fair assumption? I don't know.

Even now I feel a push to work just as hard to get good at a game so I won't be seen as some silly girl trying to play video games. I'm still afraid to play anything not dance related because I'm afraid that if I fail, or if I don't do a good job, I will be judged not as a bad player, or even a new player still trying to get the hang of a new gameplay style (I'm still awful at first person shooters like Bioshock), but that my poor playing will be tied to my gender. Do not want!

I generally keep my mouth shut when it comes to games. I don't want to admit that I haven't played X game or haven't finished Y game. I don't call myself a gamer because I'm afraid I won't actually fit the criteria and, thanks to the "fake girl geek" stereotype, I will be labeled a poser rather than a newbie who has simply given herself a title she has yet to earn. Kind of like how people called me a poser when I identified as a "punk" while not quite into the right bands to be able to call myself that. Rather than say "I wouldn't call those bands punk, but you're headed in the right direction, here give these bands a listen," they would flatly tell me the bands I liked weren't punk rock and called me a poser behind my back. Not. Helpful. Or when people called me a "fluff bunny" when I claimed to be Wiccan but had only read Silver Ravenwolf and hadn't joined a coven. I still haven't joined a coven, though I've found better authors and websites on the subject - still, I don't call myself a Wiccan, I say I'm Pagan with Wiccan leanings, and I get crap for that too so sometimes, depending on the situation, I don't say anything.

In either case, it would have been awesome if someone had recommended better bands, or books, or whatever, in order to get me further into something I was clearly interested in, rather than immediately call me a poser and shut me out. They didn't have to shut me out.

The fact is, I have game ADD. I get frustrated, I put the game down, and I may or may not ever get back to it. I may find something else and forget about it. I fear asking for help for the same reasons I listed above, I'm afraid of fulfilling the clueless/stupid gamer girl stereotype and having people chuckle at me because, you know, I'm just some girl that can't figure out something so simple. Or someone who hasn't beaten a game that "everyone" has already beaten like ten times. I'm just getting into it now? Psh, kinda late to the game, I must be trying to impress a guy or something.

Yeah, maybe I am. Maybe I'm trying to impress ALL the guys and show them that my uterus doesn't make me incapable of playing/genuinely liking video games.