“Prove it, ladies”: why sexism in fandom is a serious problem

Today, I was scrolling through a page a photos of female wu-tang fans rocking merch or wu tattoos (some photos were “sexy” some “weren’t”–not that it should even matter) and of course this guy commented: “now ask them to recite a verse haha.” If this was a page of photos of male fans those comments would not happen, despite the obvious fact that posers exist amongst all sexes.

This is a textbook example of the misogyny so many people deny exists or write off as “no big deal.” But this is a classic microaggression: a seemingly innocent comment that carries a hurtful/hateful message, whether you’re aware of it or not.

de7b63dc65bd34549382429096001cf3Comments like these feed into the culture of sexism we have in this country. When you question female fandom you are implying that women are less likely have knowledge or passion for things (“she just wants to look cute,” “she just wants attention,” “she’s trying to be one of the guys” “she’s probably just trying to impress/get with men”). It’s more proof of the ways women are constantly undermined in society. As soon as we enter a space we have to prove ourselves in ways our male counterparts do not. Questioning the knowledge I have or whether I belong in a certain community simply because I am a woman is the definition of sexism. If I suck at a videogame or have a bad race in Mario Kart and you think “typical”, you’re being sexist. If losing to me or not knowing as much as me embarrasses you more than it would if I were a man, you’re being sexist. If you see a woman at gamestop or a comic book shop and assume she doesn’t know what she’s doing or is buying something for her boyfriend, you’re being sexist.

You may think I’m making too much of this (who cares about fandoms?) but this occurs in many other areas too: math and science are–unfortunately–the first that come to mind. Not only do negative comments like these hurt women in said communities, they also discourage women outside these communities from entering them. As a woman interested in entering the comic book world it’s disheartening to know others will look down on me for not having the very knowledge I’m interested in acquiring, accusing me of being a fake geek girl.

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Aside from verbal sexism, there’s also sexism in one’s expectations. For example: if you expect me to act or look a certain way because I play videogames, you’re stereotyping gamers at best and being sexist at worst. It’s part of a long line or problematic associations: If a woman is attractive (in the traditional sense), she must be dumb; the more feminine one is the lesser/weaker one is.

“fake geek girls” are the equivalent of Communist sleeper agents in the uncertain 50s – the number of women who have no interest in geek culture but want geek attention at a personal level is vanishingly small, but their phantom is used to justify prejudice more generally, with the aim of keeping an unknown quantity out of the clubhouse. –Daniel Nye Griffiths via Forbes

Do not tell me “its just a joke” when you are not the punchline. Do not deny my experiences. Stand against this casual sexism and remember that all these, seemingly, trivial things contribute to a larger picture.

We have to take responsibility for that.

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