geek culture

Recent posts

Booth Babes: Bad For Business?

For those not familiar with booth babes, they are attractive women hired to draw a crowd at technology conferences, gaming conventions, and other tech- or geek-oriented events where there’s money to be made. Many people decry this practice as another instance of misogyny in the predominantly masculine tech cultures of contemporary times. However, a recent industry test determined that booth babes aren’t ultimately that great for business. They don’t generate more foot traffic or more revenue at tech conventions than more experienced, more covered-up female vendors. Perhaps tech/geek culture is changing, or perhaps the stereotype leveled against it that geeky guys prefer their women objectified is an oversimplification. Continue Reading →

Creating A Culture Of Inequality

I’ve posted in the past about sexism in the geek community, which extends to the tech industry as well. This letter, written by tech journalist to her daughter’s high school programming teacher, exemplifies many of the concerns about gender equality in technology and geek culture. Being the only girl in the class and having little support from adults when the boys began to marginalize her led to a terrible experience – no doubt similar to what many women who enter all-male fields go through. How does one begin to change a sexist subculture? The letter is full of helpful suggestions on how to create a more supportive environment for learning. Continue Reading →

The Double Bind Of Sexual Harassment

Author Jim C. Hines nails it with this comic on how reporting sexual harassment at conventions tends to go down. As we’ve covered previously, geek culture is notoriously misogynist at times, and the handling of sexual harassment is but one manifestation of this general trend. Unfortunately, we see plenty of these attitudes in the rest of contemporary culture as well. Continue Reading →

Transgender Character In A Fantasy Role-Playing Game

I’ve posted in the past about how gaming and geek culture can be sexist, even leading to extreme cases of harassment. Some game companies, however, are making an effort to include greater diversity among their character options, though, in terms of race, gender, and gender identity. Paizo, the creator of Pathfinder (an open gaming-licensed D&D spin-off), has included many more non-white characters in their rules books, though some have criticized their representation of women. Notably, though, Paizo recently released a character who is a transgender (male-to-female, a transition facilitated by a magic potion) half-orc paladin. Unlike other RPG characters in the past who have switched gender, largely by means of spells that unwillingly change the character’s gender, this paladin, Anevia, is apparently happy with her gender status, and is a pretty powerful character. Continue Reading →

Taking A Stand About Sexual Harassment At Conventions

Novelist John Scalzi has announced that he will not attend conventions without strong sexual harassment policies. This is an important step in combating the misogyny present in geek culture, but also that which is present in mainstream culture. I completely agree with author Rosenberg’s analysis of the situation: “Scalzi is saying one of the most important things men who want to be feminist allies can say: that sexual harassment affects and offends him personally, even if he’s not the subject of it, that if someone he cares about is hurt or humiliated, he’s going to be offended on their behalf, and stand with them as they report their experiences and look for ways that things could be different.” We need more feminist allies, not just in subcultures, but everywhere. Taking a stand publicly is a wonderful way to demonstrate that you support making a space safe for women (and in doing so, making it safe for all). Continue Reading →

Geek Culture, Misogyny, And Harassment

Geek culture seems to have a love-hate relationship with women. On the one hand, where would so many classic science fiction and fantasy tales be without a princess to rescue? But on the other hand, as soon as women try to involve themselves in geek culture, asserting their right to be there as fans of the multifaceted culture, there’s a lot of pushback from the men. A LOT. In Defense of Lady Geeks argues that while women are “appreciated for our decorative qualities, we certainly shouldn’t expect to be welcomed beyond that as active participants. Continue Reading →

“Sapiosexual” – My New Favorite Neologism

You know that feeling when you find a new word that describes an identity or characteristic and you just think, “OMG! That’s totally me!” and you get really excited? It’s that feeling of shared reality and lack of aloneness that comes from realizing you aren’t a freak (or are at least, you’re one of many freaks). I can remember feeling this way the first time I heard the term “sex geek” but more recently I felt this way when I learned the word “sapiosexual.” Continue Reading →

‘Baby, I’m Your Natural Selection’- New Scientist Magazine’s Dating Website

There’s something about geek romance that just delights me. Perhaps it’s the idea that people historically undervalued as dating partners finding connection, or, the joy that someone’s found a partner that totally ‘gets’ them. Either way, I love a good n’ nerdy how-we-met story. Case in point: a friend of mine once told me about the moment he realized he’d found ‘the one’ was when, during a walk on the beach with a new girlfriend, she picked up a rock and said, ‘This looks like a phaser!’ In a previous post, I described how I overheard the best nerdy pick-up line in the bar at the Star Trek Experience. Continue Reading →

Gender, Gaming, And Safe Spaces

Gaming and geek cultures are increasingly a part of contemporary people’s hobbies, lifestyles, and social options. Notice that I said “people” and not just “guys,” because, as it turns out, many gamers are also women–around 42% according to some studies. However, a lot of these women don’t feel safe or welcome while playing in large online games, so they hide their gender, or otherwise try to downplay their real-life identities. Why? I’ve been reading posts by Lesley, a blogger who’s also a gamer, on this topic in an effort to understand. Continue Reading →

Gender-Bending Superheroes

Many Americans are coming to terms with the fact that their beloved superheroes are often portrayed in sexist and gender-specific ways. The results of this realization are amusing and subversive. For instance, a group of cosplayers attending San Diego Comic-Con cross-dressed as their favorite Justice League characters (click the link to check out the pictures, they’re great!). And there are drawings of male superheroes posed in the same pose as Wonder Woman (again, hilarious pics, check them out!). I’m in favor of playing with gender roles to illustrate their effects, and I’m glad that comic book fans are on board. Continue Reading →