We Have Always Been Here

This anonymous Ask over on the Why I Need Diverse Games Tumblr has already received strong responses from many, but I felt strongly enough to add a short one of my own.

“Geekdom is the only place where socially shunned males can be save and be themselves [sic]”, it begins. Then, the asker attempts to utilize concepts like “safe space” in order to, ultimately, justify attacks and harassment with language that takes a militaristic tone. Couching the defensiveness of a growing mainstream audience in such language is a glimpse of how some folks feel – that broadening the reach of certain types of media belongs to some finite pool of attention that will be bestowed upon those who share their taste. “So when women,” the asker continues, “who exclude them outside geek culture, invade those save spaces and force the scene to conform to their wants and rules they leave the men with nowhere to go. Where can they flee?”

First of all, women have always been a part of geek spaces. A woman is considered the inventor of computer programming. A woman wrote what is regarded as the first sci-fi novel (Frankenstein). Women have been gaming and creating games for decades. One year, a comics shop opened next to my local movie theater. An afternoon matinee and time in the comics shop, especially if I had a few bucks from babysitting in my pocket, was a wonderful way to spend the day. Star Trek movies were even on the marquee at times. I attended dressed in a Starfleet Academy shirt as yes, a socially awkward teenage girl. I liked other awkward geeks, for friendship and romance. We had shared interests, just enough to make it interesting, and just different enough to learn from one another.

After a couple of decades playing video games, growing up with sci-fi and fantasy, and counting Star Trek as an influence on my life, I’m not seeking to ‘qualify’ or gain any sort of geek cred, but others in my life who also enjoyed many of these things were other girls. We have always been here. We’re not invaders, anonymous, and I understand the perception and socialization that leads to ostracism and feeling alone as a geeky person, but try stepping out and defining yourself outside of products you consume.

But anyone, regardless of gender, should have safe spaces, real ones, and using the idea of gatekeeping to attempt to justify harassment just falls apart in the doing. Gatekeeping is simply never okay. It’s a much richer experience to have broader, more inclusive, and more diverse options.You might discover something unexpected or even meet some good, kind, and talented folks with a more open mind. Might even surprise yourself.

There is also no limit on how much art can be created. Only so much of it is commercial. Seek out new experiences, enjoy the art, games, and writing created by other fans whose creative energy presses against their mind, fingers, or very selves, and must simply get out into the world and be born, shared, and lived.  Put down your weapons, including your pride.Art isn’t finite. No one is invading anything. The more variety and more choice we have is a good thing.

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