Calgary Journal reporter examines so called attacks on the ‘fan girl’

“Nerd.”

“Freak.”

“Loser.”

Are some of the names I am called on a daily basis.

I am a girl who likes to read comic books, watch anime, play all kinds of video games and, most of all, watch Star Wars and Doctor Who. My affinity for cosplay has involved dressing up for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two in 2011, the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo and many anime conventions.

But according to nerd culture, I am “fake.” I don’t enjoy comic books, I can’t possibly love Star Wars and there is no way I can beat you in Super Smash Brothers.

Yet according to men online, in everyday life and at conventions, I am just pretending because I want their attention.

Because everything women do is for the men’s attention, right?

Recently I had a close friend ask me if I was really a nerd or if I was acting like one to get attention from guys. I was left in shock. I had known this friend for years and have spent many hours playing video games, sharing comic books and even collecting Pokémon cards with him.

I felt betrayed, and then I came across a quote from Tony Harris, a comic book artist whose resume includes Iron Man, Starman and Ex Machina and someone whom I respected, well, used to respect, and it became clear why I was being labelled a poser.

The quotes are from Harris’ infamous Facebook rant from late last year and have been left unedited, minus censoring of choice words not fit for publication.

“I can’t remember if I’ve said this before, but I’m gonna say it anyway. I dont give a crap. I appreciate a pretty Gal as much as the next Hetero Male. Sometimes I even go in for some racy type stuff (keeping the comments PG for my Ladies’ sake) but dammit, dammit, dammit I am so sick and tired of the whole COSPLAY-Chiks. I know a few who are actually pretty cool-and BIG Shocker, love and read Comics.”

As a girl who has always loved comic books, this hurt. Clearly Harris knows females who enjoy comics but he isn’t even giving the females he doesn’t know a chance.

“Heres the statement I wanna make, based on THE RULE: “Hey! Quasi-Pretty-NOT-Hot-Girl, you are more pathetic than the REAL Nerds, who YOU secretly think are REALLY PATHETIC. But we are onto you. Some of us are aware that you are ever so average on an everyday basis. But you have a couple of things going your way. You are willing to become almost completely Naked in public, and yer either skinny (Well, some or most of you, THINK you are ) or you have Big Boobies.

Notice I didnt say GREAT Boobies?”

First of all many people are self-conscious and dressing up helps them be someone they can’t in real life. Harris is being a bully, and trust me when I say I have a few not-so-nice choice words for him. Many people who read comics do so to escape the real world, which is filled with people like Harris. He, of all people who judge female cosplayers, should know better.

Second, the women who dress up “almost completely naked” are dressing up like characters that are designed to be sexually attractive to pull readers in. These women are just replicating their heroes who just happen to be scantily clad.

Thirdly, I have seen my fair share of overweight Dark Knights, Captain Americas and Narutos and I’ve never complained. I think they are brave to rock their favorite vigilante’s attire in front of such a judging society.

“You are what I refer to as “CON-HOT”. Well not by my estimation, but according to a LOT of average Comic Book Fans who either RARELY speak to, or NEVER speak to girls. We are LEGION. And here it is, THE REASON WHY ALL THAT, sickens us: BECAUSE YOU DONT KNOW S__T ABOUT COMICS, BEYOND WHATEVER GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH YOU DID TO GET REF ON THE MOST MAINSTREAM CHARACTER WITH THE MOST REVEALING COSTUME EVER.”

Harris is just stereotyping comic book fans. I know many men who read comics or are generally into the nerd culture who are in long-term relationships or talk to women daily. If a guy starts talking to me about any of the comics I read I will gladly indulge them in conversation.

“And also, if ANY of these guys that you hang on tried to talk to you out of that Con? You wouldn’t give them the f__king time of day. Shut up you damned liar, no you would not. Lying, Liar Face. Yer not Comics. Your just the thing that all the Comic Book, AND mainstream press flock to at Cons. And the real reason for the Con, and the damned costumes yer parading around in? That would be Comic Book Artists, and Comic Book Writers who make all that s__t up.”

This is where Harris really struck a nerve with me as not only a convention enthusiast but as a journalist. I have covered the Calgary Comic and Entertinament Expo before and I never asked the types of girls Harris is explaining for an interview.

As a journalist, I ask the people having fun or the people who clearly spend months working on their costume. In general, I interview anyone who wants to be interviewed. I find convention goers extremely nice.

Now normally I won’t care but Harris is of the many who think any woman who is into the nerd culture is a fake. I’ve noticed if I bring up a topic such as the new Star Wars trilogy or Skyrim, I get laughed at, called an attention whore or have guys look at me like I’ve just opened Pandora’s Box.

I was part of a loving culture before all of this name-calling blew out of proportion.. I was fine with the fact most of my friends were males because the women I know don’t understand why I liked what I do. Now it’s like I’m suddenly back in grade school being called a freak because society deems me as a liar because I’m not understood.

Dedicated nerds, male or female, enjoy being a fan for their own reasons. Women shouldn’t have to defend their knowledge on a show/game/comic book because of their sex and gender. We shouldn’t be called an “attention whore” or a “slut” for dressing up as our favorite heroine. It’s not our fault heroines dress the way they do; they can’t draw themselves.

hcawsey@cjournal.ca