Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Glasses on Chicks" - A Facebook Conversation with Lola Montenegro about Geek Culture, Cosplay, Jennifer de Guzman, Dirk Manning, and Tony Harris.

[The following discussion took place on Facebook a little before 1 o'clock today with a friend of mine who here I'm going to be giving the nom de plume of "Lola Montenegro." If you've heard us use this name before, or if you're a Facebook friend who knows who I'm referring to, I ask you please keep it under your hat. I'm posting this because a) it was a rare civil discourse on Facebook about something and b) Lola is one of the few women I've known to argue for the other side of this issue. "Likes" are noted, but by who will be kept anonymous. - The Management.]


Lola:  Glasses on a chick definitely don't seal the deal for me. The Saga: "Fanboy Rampage: Jennifer de Guzman Vs Dirk Manning" [Any readers should probably check out this article on Bleeding Cool before continuing - The Management.]

Randall: Dude was way out of line though. I hate seeing this goalkeeping stuff in geek culture.

Lola: On the other hand, chick needs to calm the fuck down. She went way off the handle on that. [comment was "Liked" once by X]

Randall: I don't think so. This stuff is happening everywhere. The whole culture is ripe with sexism, and telling women what's appropriate and what's not. I mean, when you're a part of a culture that you constantly have to justify your presence in, doesn't it make sense to have a short fuse about it?

Maybe if more people who wanted to decide who is geek enough and who isn't got read the riot act about this, it'd stop.


LolaA model who's never read a comic in her life putting on glasses to be "geek sexy" is hardly quantifiable. I think that was his target, in which case I'm in agreement. [comment was "Liked" once by X]

Randall: I just don't think he has any right to be targeting anyone. Especially when we should be trying to be a welcoming culture.

Did you see Tony Harris's rant?


  
Randall [cont]: As a fan, I'm so disappointed.

Lola: The model will take those glasses off when her "geek sexy pic" is done and not give another two shits about the culture. There's nothing to welcome. And yeah, I did see that. I'm still a Harris fan. Rich had a good followup for that, putting it into somewhat of a more cohesive perspective.[comment was "Liked" once by X]

Randall: Yeah, but the same thing is true about say, the guy who played Hawkeye in the Avengers movie, or performers in the XXX nerd parodies, many who have documented not giving a shit about this stuff. When they were done with those roles, and took those costumes off, we still welcome them into the culture. It's a double standard.

And I saw Bleeding Cool's response [Article here: “Hey! Quasi-Pretty-NOT-Hot-Girl, You Are More Pathetic Than The REAL Nerds” – Tony Harris on Bleeding Cool by Rich Johnston, link not included in this particular exchange - The Management]. Again, I think there's perspective, and I still like Harris's art, but what a douche-y thing to say. How does he know that said girl in a Black Cat costume who wouldn't give the time of day to a nerd at one con won't get her hands on a Runaways trade and come back to the next 100% "one of us."

Hell, we don't even have to be welcoming them. But calling people phonies and poseurs and telling them to get the fuck out is douche-y. It's douche-y in any culture.


Lola: I think it's only douchey if applied to someone who has an interest in the culture or is just now getting into it. If applied to someone who has absolutely no interest and puts on glasses just for "geek" fashion, then fuck them, chick or dude.

Randall: But how do we even know if they're getting into a culture, is the thing? You have no interest in something until you suddenly do.

Look everyone worries about their culture or style being appropriated by folks who don't give a shit, but getting extra-defensive about it never stops. Just ask the punks and goths and beats who saw their styles end up on runways, and on hipsters.


Lola: I agree that getting outrageously defensive is ridiculous.

Randall: I think there are reasons to get angry about things in these situations, especially when you're part of group getting discriminated against. I think turning into Holden Caulfield and trying to play bouncer against "phonies" is silly, and makes me wonder what's really important to the people doing it.

Lola: I have to admit, I'd like to ask her what she would call a woman model who shows her tits on the Internet and panders to "nerds" and then use whatever term she comes up with to replace "whore" and then see if she can realistically pull off being that enraged. Just sayin'...


[To put a nice end cap on this, and give some people some supplemental material of some import, along with checking out the two Bleeding Cool articles above, I'd also recommend Guzman's recap of events on her site "Of Whores and Harridans" and also the New Statesman article "Nerds: Stop hating women, please" by Alex Hern. And just for a little injection of good vibes, my friend Hannah linked me to this essay by John Scalzi "Who Gets To Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be" and my oft-linked buddy John Wiswell added, via Twitter, "If you like something nerd culture has adopted, enjoy it. Decent people will accept that. Then you'll be in Decent Culture." 

I want to thank Lola for letting me put this up here - I love her to death, even though we disagree, and that we could have such a civil conversation on the internet [!] even as close friends is truly amazing. Also, to Elizabeth DeLoria, Jill Pantozzi, and The Mary Sue for bringing these things to my attention, and Rich Johnston, for covering it all on BC. If anyone actually reads this post, feel free to comment, keep it going. Just stay civil.

Finally, to editorialize a bit. I don't just want to call attention to this because I'm a feminist, or because of my own attachment to geek culture - some could even call that connection tenuous after some things I've written here - even though both those things play into it. I can't help but get up in arms when I hear about this sort of thing, hear people trying to divvy up who is and isn't allowed to be a part of fandom, and is or isn't allowed to be fans of comics.

I mean, if you want someone to take aim at, why not have at me too? It took me 4+ years to self-publish my last 24 page comic. Feel free to tell me how I've no right to be here either. - The Management.]


[Additional. To go with Jennifer de Guzman's comment - her Twitter handle is @Jennifer_deG. - The Management.]

6 comments:

  1. Hey, "Lola" -- I'm the "chick" who "needs to calm the fuck down." My Twitter account is public, so if you would like to ask me a question there, feel free.

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  2. Wow. Hi. I don't know if you'll hear back from her or not, but I do want to thank you for taking the time to read this.

    And on a more personal note, for standing up in the first place.

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  3. The problem going on, duh shit, Cloud Atlas, is that women aren't respected in the business world. Who the fuck didn't know that? We all know women get fucked over, and you're either someone who sympathizes and doesn't have the power to affect change, or your someone who likes the status quo and you don't want things to change. Some guy throwing the word "whore" around isn't perpetuating anything. "Whore" isn't "fag" or "nigger"--you can't look at a nun and call her a whore and hurt her. Throwing out the word "whore" in a meme is like some dumb fuck in 8th grade saying he fucked your mother and you actually getting pissed about it. You know he didn't fuck your mother, he knows he didn't, no one thinks he fucked her, so why care? If you're not a whore it doesn't apply to you and shouldn't offend you. De Guzman wants people to dismiss her as crazy, or a bitch, or PMSing, or some other such nonsense, because that validates her. That is why she's going overboard; it's a Westboro tactic. She has a validity to her argument and she is right, so she thinks she can push it as far as she wants because she feels beyond reproach. Thing is she's just as sexist for implying anyone who doesn't get excited about throwing around "whore" lightly is encouraging it--once again someone on the internet ignores intent. Society as a whole can never get to a good place if our goals are to never offend anyone. Racism, sexism, classism, etc. are all bad, but you can't eradicate them by suppression; that only fuels the fire. You have to get it out in the open, let the racists be racist and the sexists be sexist, and then when someone makes a joke, we can take it as a joke and when someone intends to hurt someone, we'll know it's real. Don't try to force assholes to hide their stupidity. Encourage them to be free so we can identify them, and others will see the stupidity in their arguments. This whitewashed, squeaky-clean, non-offensive ideal people are striving for is a delusion!!!!

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  4. Hi Anon.

    First, from your response, I feel like you actually have a bit of handle on this, I just think by and large you're looking at the wrong things, and perhaps what you're defending [speech] isn't exactly what is coming under attack.

    Just because we all know something is currently a truth in our flawed society isn't a reason not to call people on it. No one here is trying to force an asshole not to be an asshole, she's doing more or less what you end your diatribe on, she pointing out the misogyny and the stupidity in their arguments. No one is looking to "whitewash" anything - the ignorant are allowed to express themselves, and we are allowed to get angry over it, and say so loudly.

    I am getting sick of this idea that everything needs to be approached calmly and rationally in order to shore up its validity. If you had someone who came to your house every Sunday, and slapped you, and did this for years, just because of who you are and where you live, don't you think there's some validity in being angry that it's happening? In striking back, not suppressing, as you... confusingly put it, but rather in confronting, and saying to any oppressors, "You're wrong!" and if it's been happening as long as sexism has been happening, in geek culture, hell, in our society, that vigor and anger isn't just expected, it's justified. If a house is on fire and no one is noticing, you don't try to calmly reason them out of it, you scream and shout and try to get them onto the lawn.

    So I think you're mixing up offense with oppression. No one's trying to quash free speech here, or say you can't say this, can't say that. We're saying, De Guzman is saying, anyone making such "jokes" in such a way that makes us believe they believe that sincerely, we say "you're an ass, and here's why."

    The word "whore" here isn't the problem - though there is an argument to be made that language which is used to subjugate is kind of a problem - the problem is that word is being used here as an exclusionary tool to play gatekeeper and "put someone in their place" that the Manning [and Harris], think doesn't belong. And that's bullshit, there's no litmus as to what a geek is or isn't.

    There's no one here trying to destroy freedom of speech - I'm a pretty big advocate myself. And humor, humor I defend, I'm a Bill Hicks fan, I'm a Louis CK fan. But there's intent behind the things they do and say, they're engaging ideas like this in a real way. This, however, isn't about a joke [which is mean-spirited, and not funny anyway], it is about holding people accountable for what they say, how they act, what they think is acceptable, and how the words they choose in the situations they choose them in mean a lot more, and reflect the world they live in, and its inequities, and who they are as people for entertaining them.

    The other thing I will say, is maybe step away from your preconceived notions of what de Guzman's intent was. Or at least refrain from telling me what de Guzman's intent is or was beyond what she's actually said, because you don't have anything to base that on, especially in such sexist language. If a male was making this same argument, and just as passionately, I doubt your response to it would have anything to do with "bitch" or "PMSing."

    Look, I know how much this looks like a clampdown on people being able to say or not say what they want. But it's not, it is about why what they say offends, and the idea isn't to stop people from speaking their minds, or to sterilize language, its about building a world where folks are aware what they're saying, and the intent behind it.

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  5. Wow "Lola" needs to take some time to examine the world outside her little box and get some perspective. Yikes.

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  6. Thanks, Anon. Generally, I agree - but in fairness to my friend, she has been very gracious about at least acknowledging there's a problem, even though she's never actually experienced any of this goalkeeping, herself. Which is actually why I tell her that I keep at this problem - because I think it would be great if everyone who entered the culture had the same experience she has had.

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