Vic Sautter: Week 5

This week, VIC tackles preconceptions about female members of the ‘nerd community’.

amazing spiderman column columnist comics dark knight rises dc geeks Iron Man marvel nerds robert downey jr The Hobbit Tony Stark vic sautter

So last week, overshare much?

Having been confronted with an unexpected wave of understanding and intelligence from Tab comments last week, this week I have chosen a topic guaranteed to bring out the abuse. Because, glutton for punishment that I am, this article is gonna get feminist.

Come at me, bro.

Actually, this article starts with a general complaint. Can we, the nerd community, just try and establish one thing?


Seriously. The number of people that go on about this. It’s really very simple, you like something that’s part of geek culture? Congratulations, you’re part of geek culture. There’s no exam, no minimum standard, no required time spent to be part of that culture. It’s a culture based around the things you like and that. is. all.

But with the recent success of Marvel and DC based films, The Hobbit, Game of Thrones etc., there are some people out there (and by out there I mean on the Internet) who have decided that they get to decide what constitutes a ‘real’ fan.

These people are assholes.

Because here is the simple fact: it doesn’t matter if you have read every single Iron Man comic, you do not get to say that the person who’s only seen the films is ‘faking’. If anything, you should be grateful to those people. Without them, these projects wouldn’t be nearly as successful as they are today. You like Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark? Well the only reason he is is because there are enough people who are going to see that film when it’s made and NEWS FLASH they won’t all have read the comics.

My fellow geeks, we are no longer the minority. We are mainstream. We fought the battle for acceptance a couple of decades ago and guess what? We won. Some of the most successful films last year were The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games and The Hobbit. Nerd culture has taken over so we need to stop pretending it’s just a small bunch of guys behind computer screens. We are not the Lone Gunmen, we are legion.

Now I’m getting feminist, because if there is one group that’s get persecuted for being “fake geeks” more than any other, it’s women. Apparently, the possession of a uterus means that you are incapable of truly enjoying geek culture, or even understanding it. And if you do happen to go to a comic-con cos-playing as a fictional character from anything (but particularly Marvel), even if you spend hours making your costume, there is no way you could be doing it because you like the franchise. Nope, you’re doing it for male attention.

I’m picking on Marvel because women in the Marvel fandom get it the worst. And the view I just outlined doesn’t come from a random anonymous blog on the Internet, oh no, this comes from one of the artists at Marvel Comics: Tony Harris.

Spoiler Alert: Tony Harris is an idiot.

Harris posted a tirade, with worse punctuation than this column, which is saying something, against the “fake geek girl” on his Facebook page recently.

You can read a copy of this trash here:

Harris makes a stand against…you know what, actually trying to work out what the hell he’s on about is a little tricky, but the gist is that he hates women who dress up as the characters he draws, and calls them sluts for it.

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Apparently women don’t enjoy geek culture for themselves; they only do it to impress guys. It’s actually a pretty hard point to argue against because it’s so mind-bogglingly ignorant that all I can really do is read his post and say “WHAT?” with increasing confusion à la 10th Doctor. I’m not even sure which side he’s on – sure, he hates women, but at the same time he writes that all men who go to conventions are “Some virgins. ALL uncomfortable when it comes to girls.” Yep, Tony Harris is stuck in a 1980s movie.

But here’s the thing. Harris’s argument may be extreme but the “fake geek girl” mentality remains. The Internet is a treasure trove of stories about women being treated like their gender prevents them from being nerds. The 4 year old girl who dressed as Thor for school dress-up day and was told by parents it “wasn’t appropriate”; the woman who was interviewed at a con, expecting to be asked about the shows she liked and was instead asked about her bra size; and while we’re on that matter how about Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone and Anne Hathaway (Avengers, Amazing Spiderman and Dark Knight Rises) being asked intimate questions about wearing a cat suit or their diets or their underwear, while their (male) fellow cast members get asked about the psychology of their character?

Maybe it sounds like I’m overreacting, but honestly it gets really fucking exhausting having to justify my interest in nerd culture because there are still people who believe that women can’t have a genuine interest in it.

We need to break this stereotype, and we need to stop tearing down those we think conform to it. All it does is force people (male and female) out of the fandom and deprive them of the chance to get involved in some awesome entertainment. What does it matter if the person you’re sitting next to at the cinema hasn’t read the books or comics, or seen all the classic series? And it certainly doesn’t matter what gender they are. You still get to enjoy it. So let them too.

Sautter Out.