When I was scrolling through an alternative nerd group on Facebook, a guy posted a picture of a guy and girl gaming together and he said he was looking for his “gamer girl.”
The post got lots of likes and heart reactions, as well as nice comments about couples who game together and one couple with matching his and hers gaming setups. The few posts that stuck out were the ones who were opposed to being a “gamer girl.” The one quote that I remember most is, “I am a girl who games, why do I have to be a gamer girl?”
That made me reflect on my single life and the guys I’ve come across while looking. While on a dating site that rhymes with Mumble, I came across two guys who were of the nerdy variety. When they asked me what I liked to do for fun, I said I like to cosplay. Each guy reacting with enthusiasm, but their follow-ups were very different. One guy wanted to know details behind my cosplays, like how did I build this or what did I use to make that. That was fun for me because I could talk about prop making all day.
The second guy, however, really brought down me down. He told me I should cosplay as Catwoman and when I asked why, he said “…because I think she’s sexy.” He didn’t supply me with any actual reasons behind Catwoman like how she’s witty, confident, strong, intelligent, athletic, or anything else like that. She’s just sexy. If I cosplayed her under that one adjective, I would be “just sexy” too. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with being sexy, but that’s not all I am. I do have a brain to go with my awesome physical appearance, but nerdy women can’t be both sexy and smart right?
Women who are into the geekier or nerdier things are never just girls who like gaming, comics, or cosplay. We’re always “something-girl” and treated differently than our male counterparts; with the legitimacy of our geekiness based on whether or not sex is involved. The memes are all over the internet. The sexy ‘Gamer Girl’ wearing a gaming t-shirt and panties, with a gaming headset on and a controller cord in her mouth. The jokes passed around about cosplay girls who dress up in sexy costumes for attention or to turn on other people’s boyfriends or because of daddy issues. The insults about girls into comics who only read them to impress a guy they like, or to “lure” in geeky men.
Am I saying there aren’t girls who game while just in panties and a t-shirt? No, I’m not because I do that from time to time. Am I saying there aren’t women who cosplay in sexy outfits for attention? No way because that does happen and that’s perfectly fine. What I am saying is, that just because a girl cosplays as a sexy character, games in the buff, reads comics, or whatever, it doesn’t make her less than a guy who does the same thing. It doesn’t take away from her being a nerd or a geek. Contrary to insecure male logic, women can be intersectional. It’s possible to be a nerd and sexy at the same time. Shocking!
I talked to a few guy friends of mine about the whole “gamer girl/nerd girl” thing and they gave me interesting insight. Just like anyone who has been treated as an outsider because you were a nerd or a geek, all you want to do is find others like you. It’s even more special when you can find someone who is into the same things as you and can understand you on a deeper level. Things like not being disturbed when you’re trying to take down a boss or when a con is around the corner and you’re more focused on finishing a costume or prop.
At the core of calling a girl a “gamer girl” or “nerd girl” is just a guy looking for a partner who can get him at his true self; a girl who can share the nerdy moments with. Someone who will be there for him when his energy is more into Final Fantasy XV and will still care about him at the end of the day. Now, this doesn’t go for ALL guys. There are still guys out there who have created a fetish out of girls who are nerdy and geeky; who only see nerdy girls as a sexual thrill and truly believe that we’re into nerdy things because we want to attract men and not because we actually love what we’re into; the kind of guy who allows his own insecurities to override the fact that nerdy things are not ‘boys only’ anymore. These guys have created negative stereotypes and narratives that women have to deal with depending on whatever fandom or nerd arena we’re entering.
To those guys, I just have this to say: I’m not your fetishized gamer girl. I’m not your fetishized nerd girl either. I’m not going to dress up as a sexy character because that’s what you want to see. I’m not going to show you my nerd card on demand or prove to you how deep of a fan I am. If you’re not going to ask the same of your fellow man, don’t bother asking me. I’m not a prop to be used to bring guys into a game or cosplay; sex may sell but that has nothing to do with me. I am a girl who plays video games. I am a girl who cosplays whomever I want, sexualized or not; my body, my rules. Bottom line, I’m not who you want me to be but who I choose to be.