I wrote this right before navigating my way through my first PAX Prime convention, which in some ways is akin to a female gamer navigating their way through Xbox live. The majority of gamers are great folks, but in the past few years, there has been an awful a lot of media coverage on this topic. Most gamers have heard the stories about the hatred and blatant sexism that pops up in not just gaming, but geekdom in general.
My first Magic: the Gathering tournament, a player cheated because he thought I was too dumb to notice. He was rude and dismissive of anything I said or asked. (Just to note, the other rounds went well—this was just one guy.) A quick Google search will give loads of stories like that and much, much worse.
I’ve been a gamer for the majority of my life and a geek just as long. In middle school, I remember being bullied because “only boys read sci-fi” and being told I should “stick to the unicorns.” Breaking into the boys’ club of sci-fi reading was difficult. Breaking into it as a writer is harder. Many readers don’t think women can write believable sci-fi, much less hard science fiction (Nevermind that Nancy Kress does an amazing job at this!).
I’m used to the world being a boys’ club. Most people wouldn’t consider the education realm to be a boys’ club because the majority of teachers are women. But at the administration level, most administrators are male and “good ‘ole boys” at that. As a teacher, I was harassed and belittled countless times because I knew more about computers (or another subject) than the administrator (or male teacher).
It happened because I was educated and intelligent. Or because I didn’t let anyone tell me I couldn’t. If I wanted to try something, I tried it. If I wanted to defend a student, I defended them. I lost track of how many LGBT or atheist students I defended across the years from admin who wanted them gone. They were different. They were a “problem” to be “dealt with.” I lost track of how many coworkers I defended from bully admin because they dared to have a baby or speak their mind.
Afterwards, the admin wanted me gone for “making waves.” (I love how defending people from harassment and bullying is considered a bad thing.)
[important]If standing up for others makes me a wave maker, I’m going to be a damn tsunami.[/important]
If nothing else, the geek community should understand better than anyone what it is like to be harassed and bullied for being different. So why is it that this same community continues to give geeky girls a hard time? Why is it normal to be harassed on Xbox Live or at a large convention?
And hope that the boys’ club of PAX is now a myth.
EDIT POST-PAX: PAX wasn’t as bad this year as it’s been in past years. There were definitely quite a few jerks around—people who made fun of others or shoved their way through crowded rooms like they were god’s gift to the world. A friend told me about one dude harassing a girl in a wheelchair, which lasted until the husband stepped in and threatened to squish the dick like the bug he was. Saw a few encounters like that myself. Had my picture taken quite a number of times in my Dalek cosplay. Only two teenage boys made fun of my Dalek hat. I consider that progress!