So, yeah, I’m still doing demos for Green Ronin. And as part of doing demos, they sent me a lovely t-shirt. But I don’t wear it for the demos, and I have reasons.
When I demo games, I very purposely dress “like a girl.” Meaning, I wear more feminine shirts, I wear jewelry, I wear skirts and tights and cute shoes. I wear make up. And the reason for this is that if you want to attract players who do not fit that stereotypical gamer profile, you have to show them that people who look like them game, too. And what better way than to have your subject matter expert, there to teach them the game, not look like the stereotypical gamer profile.
This is not to say that I am not festooned with geek signifiers. I own multiple comic book character necklaces, earrings, charm bracelets, shirts that I’ve altered, hoodies, at least one. sundress, leggings and pins. And, hell, I’ve got nerdy tattoos, you guys. But I find that other women, who may dress more femininely respond to me better when I am also dressed more femininely.
For a long time, in order to be taken seriously at the gaming table, you had to wear the uniform of jeans, t-shirt (preferably geek-themed of one flavor or another), tennis shoes, hair either hanging loose or pulled back in a ponytail. Especially if you were a girl.
And I’ll admit, even wearing the uniform didn’t keep the guys from trying to run your character for you, telling you which dice to roll, explaining the system regardless of whether or not you introduced them to it. What it did do, though, was declare that you weren’t “like those other girls who only care about clothes and looks.”
Sadly, as most of us found out in time, it didn’t protect you from sexual harassment and/or assault, either.
I think nearly every geek woman I know has gone through an “exceptional girl” phase, where they expended a frightening amount of energy on proving that they weren’t like other girls. That they didn’t care about make up, clothes, or any of that other “girl stuff.” They spent a large amount of time actively hostile to girls who did care about that stuff. And in a strong correlation, almost every geek woman I know has also had a rude awakening regarding her worth to dudes she played with once they decided she was sexually interesting, especially if she turned them down.
I think what I’m saying here is that nowadays, many of us have decided that conforming to the stereotype sucks, and we’re going to dress how we want to dress. And if that is in a t-shirt and jeans and sneakers, great! And if it’s in stockings, a cute little Marvel characters sundress, giant cats-eye sunglasses and a Black Widow cardigan, also great! Or if it’s a combination of the two, fantastic!
We shouldn’t have to either try to make ourselves appear as sexless as possible, nor should we have to sexy ourselves up to be allowed into games or to be taken seriously as gamers. We should be able to look and dress any way we want. Because for the most part, we aren’t doing it for anyone but ourselves.
So, yeah, I dress really feminine when I demo games so that other women who dress feminine know, at least, that my table is friendly to them.
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