I, and a lot of other folks, particularly other female geeks, blog a lot about what’s wrong with geek culture, and the ways it hurts us.
But it doesn’t just hurt us. For many of us, finding geek culture, banding with other nerds saved out lives in one form or another, which is why we won’t give up, we won’t let the haters ruin it for us.
I’m not sure how in depth I’ve gone into how really bad my teenaged years got. I mean, I talk about the bullying and all that, but home wasn’t a sanctuary either. I don’t really want to go into that too much here in public, but yeah, it was rough. We moved to Boise, ID, which was culturally another planet from Jackson, MI. I hit puberty in a big way. And my family had their own issues, leaving me to muddle through on my own.
I frequently credit Anne McCaffrey with saving my life at that point. While I was hiding in the library during lunch. I literally hid in the library every break and lunch that I could get away with, because there was always an adult presence, and the head librarian liked me, and kept an eye on me. But I discovered Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonrider of Pern books, beginning with Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums.
I had always escaped into fiction to deal, or rather not deal, with how difficult life could be, but with Anne. McCaffrey’s books, they spoke to me on a deeper level, at least at that time.
These books are catnip to bullied teenagers, especially girls.
Now, I am not going to gloss over some of the more problematic aspects of McCaffrey’s writing, particularly her earlier work from the 60s. And some of those more problematic elements start to pop up in the third book, Dragondrums, but all in all, I count the influence of these books on my life as a net positive.
When I met the geek crew in Seattle, I was super lonely, I was in the process of the long and painful break up from the ex I still refer to as “He Who Shall Remain Nameless,” who went out of his way to make me feel like shit about myself. And the fact that they welcomed me in with open arms and encouraged my interest in SF/F, and heaped books and book recommendations on me, and taught me how to game, that group provided me with some of my longest lasting friendships to this day. They are friends who I may not see often, but if they called to ask me to move a body, I’d do it. And I know they’d do the same for me.
The night I walked into my first Science Fiction convention, I honest to gods looked around me and felt like I had come home for the first time in my life, surrounded by other nerds, so many other people who had spent their lives blowing the curve on tests and paying for it physically later, who were willing to talk to me about the “weird shit” no one else in my life really cared about.
I mean, my Dad is at least partially to blame for my geek nature, but he never really wanted to talk about stuff with me. My Mom is responsible for my love of horror, but again, I had no one with whom to talk about Horror either. Geek culture gave me all those things, all the support, and interest in me and what I wanted to to do and talk about that I never got anywhere else.
I am not wiling to leave Geek Culture to the people trying to drive me out. Because as many dudes who will claim that SF/F fandom, Gaming, computers saved their lives, there are just as many women who feel the same way. We just don’t (or didn’t) get listened to when we talked about it.
So, no, you don’t get to take that from me. Or any other woman.
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