Girl nerds exist

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I tell myself that the fight is over and no one won. I rationalize that only a few people are ruining it for the rest of us and therefore, those few should just be ignored. We do! So why does it keep getting dragged into our dialogue?

And if we are accused of fakedomwhy do we snap back in defense? Why so much power? Why are we so deeply threatened by the notion of falsified fandom?

Girl nerds exist

I wish it were that simple. This stronger reaction stems from years of repeated, accumulated experiences of insults, indignities, and demeaning messages from other members of the comics community. These experiences—the seemingly harmless comments, the sarcastic jokes, the subtle non-physical exchanges—are called microaggressions.

Girl nerds exist

Here are some examples of gender microaggressions in the context of female members of the comics community:. Women also deliver these seemingly harmless bites. Why are microaggressions harmful? They seem silly, right? But these comments actually communicate messages that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person. Sure, these incidents typically appear minute, banal and trivial.

Girl nerds exist

Sometimes they produce a good laugh. But repeated experiences of receiving them can have a long-term psychological impact. For instance, here are the implied messages about women in the comics community:. These messages can therefore be pervasive and potentially damaging to a large group of people. And the reason they are micro -aggressions, Dr. Sue explains, is that the person delivering them may be well-intentioned and non-threatening in nature, maybe not even aware of their own biases.

They, too, are have their own experiences that have shaped their perspectives. In most cases, when confronted, the person will deny that they meant any harm, explain that they were joking, and tell the recipient that she is being too sensitive. I cannot emphasis enough the point here:.

Girl nerds exist

Thus the endless cycle of invalidation, misunderstanding, defensiveness and back to invalidation. These are examples of actual threats, verbal assaults, and intentionally insulting remarks. But these comments do trigger an emotional response because they confirm past microaggressive experiences. These instances are like knife-stabs in vulnerable places. I admit, I have a deep and sometimes desperate desire to be seen for who I am, for my geek identify to be validated.

In my experience, this typically happens in the form of a microaggression— a subtype called microinvalidation.

Girl nerds exist

I recently traveled to a psychology conference, and, upon arriving at the airport for my departing flight, experienced an example of a microinvalidation. At security check, after my technology went through the scanner, I scurried over to gather my shoes and belongings.

I picked up my Star Wars hoodie and wrapped it around my Batgirl t-shirt. I love Star Wars too.

Girl nerds exist

A reminder of the widespread belief that Star Wars is gendered. The thing I love is for males. The mistaken identity stayed with me. The negative thoughts of being invisible flooded my mind. Resentment became my in-flight entertainment. But because I insisted on obsessing over a microinvalidation, I dismissed a validating compliment and an opportunity to feel visible.

And damnit, an opportunity to geek out with someone who liked my stuff. Ridiculous, huh? Photo by LJinto. Psychologically we have a deep desire to be recognized and to belong. Our social identity— who we are, essentially, to the world— is greatly determined by the groups we belong to.

We develop much of ourselves from our groups: self-esteem, purpose, a sense of belonging, approval. How are costumes in any way related to comics knowledge? Moreover, how are skimpy costumes related to comics knowledge? And what if these women who cosplay want to be seen in their costume and therefore want the attention?

I have no explanation for this imagined fantasy that women who cosplay for attention cannot be actual nerds. But nothing seems more damaging to a woman than the simultaneous attack on both her body and her brain. Why does the imposter, who represents a small fraction of our community, seem to have grabbed so much focus and power? Here are some reasons why we might be threatened by inauthentic members of our society:. The false notion of limited resources: Growing up, many of us experienced our fandoms in the context of collections, acquisitions, and serialized products.

Our fandoms seem to manifest as measurable amounts of goods. Guess what? They sold out in 3 minutes. Like it or not, we think of our fandom as serialized and limited. The opposite is actually true if we think about intangible goods— the vast amount of knowledge across all geek genres from comic books to fantasy literature to video games.

The misinterpreted sense of ownership. When we belong to a community, we develop a sense of deserved ownership. When I was young, I received fan club cards and membership letters to inform me that I belonged to a particular club, reinforcing the exclusivity of the group. Serial s, laminated cards, and now, e-mails and twitter groups seem to reify the notion that belonging to a group means we are shareholders and that others are not.

Girl nerds exist

Shareholding grants us certain conceptual privileges: We get to decide who else is in or out. But, really, apart from the tangible products, what do we really own? Resentment of the changing culture. Some of us grew up hiding our geek identity for one reason or another. For many of us, when we see individuals who appear to have recently ed the community we feel uncomfortable with their different identity development. We had to suffer the bullying! God, they even look happy. The feelings of being threatened, invalidated, and overlooked can happen to any one of us in this community—some psychologists argue that when the threats are ambiguous or subtle like microaggressionsthey can be more damaging because there is no certainty and the assault is denied or ignored.

All of us have, at one point or another, experienced bullying, invisibility, insult, attack, or violation. This is the human condition. Andrea Letamendi is clinical psychologist who writes in-depth perspectives about heroes and villains from science fiction, fantasy, and comics. She is a consultant to writers and creators in the comics industry to help ensure the accuracy of psychology as depicted in fiction. She regularly speaks as an expert panelist at comic conventions around the country and, in her spare time, obsesses over all things Batman and Star Wars.

Have a tip we should know? Andrea Letamendi Dec 21st,pm. I cannot emphasis enough the point here: 1. The recipients of microaggressions feel victimized and threatened. Their assailants feel like they did no harm. Why are we threatened by the Imposter? Here are some reasons why we might be threatened by inauthentic members of our society: 1. Filed Under: fake geek girl geek girls geeks nerds psychology. Follow The Mary Sue: Twitter.

Girl nerds exist

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