11.14.2012

Rethinking My Stance On "Fake Geek Girls"

First, I want to thank everyone -- supporters and detractors alike -- for weighing in on the topic of "Fake Geek Girls", my MUCH discussed Booth Babes article on CNN, my other blog pieces, and the recent discussions around the topic of what I consider to be "posers" or "Fake Geek Girls." This is a genuine, heart-felt thanks. Hate it, love it, agree or disagree, the dialog has been not only necessary, but what I feel has been overall good.

When discourse takes place, we are forced to evaluate and reevaluate our stance, no matter how strong it is. At some deep emotional level, we realize when we've stood on hyperbole or our own personal predilections, and I think facing that truth -- even in silence by ourselves -- is good.

Yesterday, a friend of mine, Tony Harris, posted a rant on his personal Facebook page about Fake Geek Girls. Tony has spent his nearly 25 years in comics innovating and creating some incredible properties, characters, art and culture. One major aspect of Tony's art: he's one of the very few male artists in mainstream (superhero) comics who has ever outright refused to draw idealized / fetishized / objectified women in his work.

Tony Harris is genuinely a good guy who posted a spur-of-the-moment rant on his personal Facebook page. What he did was not what I did -- I went on CNN and writ large my disdain for a subset of the culture I find distasteful. He simply did what we all do on Facebook -- he posted a rant and moved on. The fact that this rant was screencaptured and then reposted all over the internet, which got national attention, was never his intention. Slamming it is not the kind of fair it was with my article (even though Tony is a strong guy and is taking it). Whether you hate me or love me, whether you hate my opinion, his opinion, or the mere fact that we exist, I'd really like to ask people to consider this before attacking the guy or reposting the piece:

Have you ever vented in the spur of the moment, something you wish you'd taken some time to really think out? Have you ever used Facebook as a catharsis for a burst of emotion? Have you ever felt your logical side peek out and say "Hey now, you know that's not what you really feel..." only to have your emotional side say "YEAH BUT IT FELT REALLY GOOD TO SAY!"

Ever regretted it? Not that you felt it or how you think, but how you said it?

Maybe consider that when you realize that this is what happened here, but instead of a bunch of comments and unfriending, the guy was put on an international stage across tons of blogs and Tumblr pages and news feeds and Twitter and cannot possibly respond to the volume of feedback (which has, as it did with me, coalesced into a tide of "You're EVIL!") much less reflect, explain or, if he wanted to, apologize?

Now, on to the point: I think that I need to update my viewpoint on the topic of "Fake Geek Girls" and "Posers". It's tainted with a lot of vitriol and anger (as is everything I rant about), and I think that the culture and the various abuses within it are actually much more important than just making scathing points isolating on one type of person.

From my own personal viewpoint, as the guy who wrote the pieces I wrote: I know me. I know how I feel. I know that intent of what I wrote was not to hurt women. It wasn't an attempt to put WOMEN in their place, limit freedoms, hurt anyone or anything.

The intent is to call out behaviors I find distasteful (even if you don't), namely using a culture you don't intend to belong to to further your own agenda. As a member of this community for the past 30-some-odd years, I have a love for it that I consider precious -- so when I perceive someone or something doing something I think is harmful, I react. I also point out personal accountability for consequences.

The unfortunate part: whether I meant to or not, I've touched a nerve where respect toward women is concerned.

I actually see now, with Marian Call, Wendy Hathaway, Liz Stricklen, Genevieve Dempre, Jessica Sides, Amy Ratcliffe, Taffeta Darling and all of these other incredibly smart, geeky females that I admire and respect (genuinely) calling this out and flat out saying "Look, you make good points but there's a bent here that borders on (or outright infringes in) misogyny" -- There's some reconsidering I need to do.

I have a policy: once I've written something, it's written. I don't revisit and I don't obsess. Very rarely do I readdress or post followups on an opinion piece, because I feel like once it's there, it can't be un-there. I can be sorry if someone is hurt or angry, but I cannot be sorry for how I felt -- and that's what those pieces are. So I just go "eh, get over it" as sarcastically as I can as my own personal defensive measure and I write the next thing.

This is too important now. I can't just let this flow into the stream of things I've written and move on to the next thing. I can't treat this the same as I treat all of my other "Joe The Peacock" type angry-funny things.

I think I'm going to readdress my article(s) on this topic, and then only after a bit of soul-searching to find what it is that is actually causing my concern. Or, in other words, I'd like to start attacking the illness, not the symptoms. And after that, I'm going to welcome ANYONE, supporter or detractor, to converse with me about the new viewpoint and help me to understand what I'm not seeing. Because let's be frank: if I'm this confused by the outrage over the things I've written, and I cannot possibly understand what is being misread or how to get people this angry... It can't be all of those people.

 I've screwed up somewhere, either in being blind to the unintended message, or in writing it in a way that isn't clear.

I'm a huge fan of personal accountability, and that's what this is -- I'm owning up to the fact that, somehow, somewhere, I'm missing something where this topic is concerned. What I do know: there are entities in this newly-cool geek culture who are, in no way whatsoever, interested in actually participating in what makes it awesome. They don't come for the love, and they don't come for the fandom, and they don't come for the passion. They come for the money, or for what will inevitably turn into money. Or attention, which in some cases, is worse. And somewhere in there, I've muddied my viewpoint.

I want to thank you all for weighing in. Look for something in the coming weeks (not days -- I'm really going to work on this).