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.

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